don't know if Harry Raymond Pope set out to make a name for himself
when he chose crime and violence as a vocation, but judged by the
standards of others in his line of work, he did pretty well for himself.
He even made the FBI's Top Ten Wanted list in 1959-sort of an all-star
team for criminals.
Associates and newspaper reporters sometimes referred to him as "The
Walking Arsenal" because Pope liked to go around gunned up with a
variety of pistols and a shotgun. He often boasted how he was ready
to shoot it out with the cops if they ever came after him. The FBI
investigated him as part of its review of the Dallas-Fort
Worth area's "top hoodlums." His name even came up-briefly and
in passing- during the investigation of President Kennedy's assassination,
but so did the name of nearly every other Dallas hoodlum of the day.
A native of either Arkansas or Louisiana-accounts vary and he spent
prison time in both states- Pope ended up in Dallas
as one of the more volatile members of that city's underworld, which
included the likes of Benny Binion, Jack Ruby (whose name definitely
came up during the Kennedy investigation) and a man named Jettie Bass.
The FBI described Bass as "principally a night time burglar" who specialized
in burglarizing safes. He was also known to deal narcotics from time
to time. So was Pope. They had a lot in common, which is not to imply
that they liked each other.
As proof that they didn't, we point to an incident in 1955 when Pope
and Bass encountered each other across the street from the Dallas
County Courthouse and got into a bloody fight. Pope supposedly
started the whole thing by shoving one of the two women who were with
Bass at the time. Bass picked up an ash tray on a long stand and swung
it at Pope, who pulled a knife and ripped open Bass' stomach. Bass
and the women commenced wailing, which attracted the attention of
Dallas detective Bob Abbott and two constables, who happened to be
in a nearby restaurant when Pope spilled Bass' guts.
The lawmen rushed outside to find Bass holding his intestines in his
hands and two women in hysterics. A deputy constable, Hubert Hale,
confronted Pope, who cut the constable under the arm with the knife
and ran away. Abbot and Hale drew their guns and told Pope to come
back. Pope went back.
The whole thing had turned into a gunfight, and Pope, the Walking
Arsenal, had only a knife.
A Dallas Grand Jury ignored
the stabbing of Bass-they didn't much care what happened to Jettie
Bass and probably weren't overjoyed that he survived the attack -but
indicted Pope for assault with intent to murder for his attack on
Hale. A justice of the peace initially denied bond, but Pope's lawyer,
Bob Allen, persuaded District Judge Harold Wright to release him on
To no one's surprise, except possibly Judge Wright's, Pope skipped
bail. He got busted in Mississippi in July of 1958 for robbing a supermarket
but was on the loose again a year later when his name appeared on
the FBI's most wanted list as the result of a robbery-gone-wrong in
In that incident, Pope and a man named Jarrell Lee Carter tried to
burglarize a Phoenix drug store by breaking in from the roof. The
prerequisite drilling and pounding alerted and also annoyed the manager
of the department store next door, who called the cops. When they
arrived, Pope and Carter were inside the store, intent on blowing
open a safe with dynamite fuses and nitroglycerin mixed with soap
and sawdust. The Phoenix police demanded the pair come out with their
Instead, Pope and Carter used a crowbar to break out the front window
and make a run for it. Pope emerged with guns blazing, firing a couple
of shots in the direction of some teenagers who had called out to
police, "There they are!" Then, gun drawn, he charged at detective
lieutenant Barney Dunn. Dunn fired once, hitting Pope in the right
Pope would wear a patch over that eye for the rest of his life, earning
him another moniker-The One-Eyed Bandit.
The cops soon found Pope's car, accessorized with a sawed-off shotgun
and everything anybody would need to cut into a safe, a few minutes
later. They had Pope, now with a big hole in his head and bleeding
profusely, in custody.
"I guess I've lived too long anyway," he told officers.
But Pope would live a little longer. The bullet had entered through
his eyeball and lodged fractions of an inch in front of his brain.
A judge released him on bail. A mistake. Pope once again took off
for parts unknown. In a press release announcing Pope's ascension
to its most wanted list, the FBI described Pope as "a luxury-loving,
dull-witted man with a quick temper, sadistic nature and nothing to
live for" and noted that others had sometimes labeled him a "raving
The raving maniac made his way to Lubbock,
where he found refuge at a trailer belonging to Rita Louise Norris,
widow of notorious Fort
Worth gangster Gene Paul Norris. After somebody tipped the cops
to Pope's whereabouts, eight members of law enforcement toted their
own arsenals to the trailer and busted in without knocking. Pope was
sitting on the floor, under a window, reading a newspaper. He didn't
resist arrest and had nothing to say until the reporters showed up.
Asked why he didn't shoot it out with the cops like he had said he
would, Pope denied ever saying such a thing. "I'm not stupid," he
told Lubbock Avalanche Journal reporter Ken May. "I wouldn't
have had a chance. There were too many of them and they were armed
too heavily." He also said he would have been more cautious if he'd
known he was on the FBI's most wanted list. He claimed it wasn't the
first time he'd been on such a list because he once saw his picture
on a wanted poster in an Arkansas post office.
Pope also complained about how hard it hard it was to make a living
"peeling safes" anymore, and how he had planned to leave Lubbock
the next day, lamenting "I just stayed one day too long." He admitted
to being a drug pusher, but insisted he never touched the stuff himself.
The cops returned Pope to Phoenix where, in January of 1960, he was
sentenced to nine to fifteen years in prison. Almost nine years to
the day later, on Christmas night in 1969, Pope was shot twice with
a .38 caliber pistol in Garland, Texas and died right there. He was
fifty years old.
Newspaper stories the next day described him as "an old time burglar,
thief and safecracker" and that he was once on the FBI's most wanted
list, which was the closest thing to a tribute that Harry Raymond
Pope would ever receive.