One-hundred years ago next month, an otherwise quiet day in Castle Shannon became a bullet-riddled bloodbath as a bank robbery gone bad spilled into the streets and into the countryside.
“The Great Castle Shannon Bank Robbery” is a tale of gun fights, suicide, and vigilante justice in a quiet town that, at the time, didn’t even have a police force.
Last week, local historian Edward Hale shared the incredible story as part of a Bridgeville Area Historical Society presentation. Hale previously wrote about the incident in an award-winning Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article:
Although Rawa noticed several men enter the bank, he paid them scant attention. Rawa sensed, then felt, their presence on both sides and slightly behind him.
Without warning, the small office in the imposing Greek Revival building on Poplar Avenue exploded in gunfire, the smoke quickly engulfing its interior.
In seconds, before the clouds blinded him, Rawa saw blood trickle down McLean’s face as he held up a “good-sized book,” trying to shield himself.
“I was frightened and started to move back to the front door,” Rawa said. He thought he could run away. But one gunman said, “Stay here! Hands up!”
Somehow, despite the fusillade, McLean and Erbe grabbed pistols from the shelf under the counter and traded shots with the intruders before falling to the floor fatally wounded.
Watch Hale’s full presentation above.