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Shootout Articles Print E-mail


BURGLAR SHOT? Suspected burglar John Durbin was shot and seriously wounded Friday when he walked directly into a police trap inside a house at 1308 S. 6th St. Durbin's accomplice escaped after a brief gun-battle.

Reprinted from Las Vegas Sun

February 7, 1970

Burglary Ring Member Shot in Police Trap

By GEORGE MANES

SUN Staff Writer

An alleged member of one of the biggest burglary-robbery gangs in Las Vegas history was seriously wounded Friday night when he walked into a police trap.

John Durbin was shot at close range in a hail of shotgun and pistol fire when he broke into a

house at 1308 S. 6th St. Five police officers and sheriff's deputies were waiting inside the home of Chester Simms, former Flamingo executive, when Durbin and a companion entered.

Chief Deputy Doyle Hamilton said Durbin entered the house through the kitchen door at 9:15 p.m. and almost immediately spotted Sheriff's Lt. Conrad Simmons.

Durbin pulled a gun and fired at the detective, narrowly missing him in the darkened house. Simmons fired back as did Deputy Arky Hanley.

Durbin then allegedly turned and fled, as the shooting continued, bleeding heavily from numerous wounds. His companion was out the door a few steps in front of him.

A neighbor was walking near the house and "heard all hell break loose" as the two men fled the scene. The police chased Durbin outside, fired again, and he crumpled to the ground a half block away.

He lay groaning loudly on the cold cement as a pool of blood beneath spread almost four feet across. He was shot in the side with buckshot and perhaps a slug from a .357 magnum.

Chief Hamilton said Durbin is "well-known" to police and is awaiting trial for robberies of the Beer Barrel, Keg Room and 95 Club bars.

Durbin is a known associate of murder suspects LeRoy Marsh, "Cat" Adams and several other police suspects who allegedly have been active in pulling numerous robberies and burglaries in the Las Vegas area.

The neighbor who was nearly caught in the shootout was Dr. Ray C. Wixom, 1509 S. Sixth St . Wixom said he was out for a walk when suddenly "everything exploded" around him.

Lawmen had been staking out the Simms home for two nights prior to the burglary attempt. Sheriff's intelligence men had learned of the "heist" and combined with city police officers in the stakeout.

The cops said they heard the suspects knock on the front door and ring the bell before breaking in the side entrance .

Durbin left a sickening trail of blood, intestines and flesh from the front of the house to where he finally fell.

Officers said it was a miracle detective Simmons wasn't hit when the suspect fired at such close range.

During the melee, the suspects managed to throw away the pistol and lawmen were searching the neighborhood for it and the second suspect.

A neighbor said she saw a man crouch in the bushes outside her home before fleeing south on Sixth St .

Reprinted from Las Vegas Sun

February 8, 1970

Suspect Shot by LV Lawmen Still Critical

John E. Durbin, 42, remained in critical condition at a local hospital Saturday night, suffering from multiple bullet and buckshot wounds. Medical spokesmen said he had undergone extensive surgery.

Durbin, a suspected burglar, was shot down in a fusillade of police gunfire Friday night, apparently while breaking into the home of Chester Simms, 1308 S. 6th St. , who is vacationing in Miami Beach .

Officers were waiting for Durbin inside the house. Reports said he was shot after firing his own weapon first at a detective crouching in the house.

Durbin ran some distance before he collapsed. An intensive search was conducted for his gun, but it has not yet been found. A second suspect, who entered the house behind Durbin, managed to elude the police cordon.

The wounded man was reported to have been interviewed by detectives in his hospital room Saturday night, but refused to divulge the identity of his alleged accomplice.

Durbin was scheduled to appear in court for sentencing Monday on robbery and forgery convictions. He had pleaded guilty in both cases.

Reprinted from Las Vegas Sun

February 9, 1970

Suspect Shot by LV Lawmen Clings to Life

Suspected burglar John Durbin clung to life throughout the weekend and remained in grave condition Sunday night from more than a dozen bullet and buckshot wounds.

Durbin, 42, was shot by police Friday night, allegedly while he and an accomplice attempted to break into the home of Chester Simms, 1308 S. 6th St .

Simms, a former part-owner of the Flamingo Hotel, was vacationing with his family in Miami Beach .

A combined force of five sheriff's and city detectives were inside the palatial residence waiting for the alleged burglars to arrive. They reported receiving information two days earlier that a crime would be committed there.

As Durbin and the accomplice allegedly broke in through the kitchen door, a gun was fired, apparently by one of them at a detective crouched some 10 feet away.

The detectives returned the fire as Durbin and the accomplice bolted out the door. The accomplice escaped into the darkness.

Durbin ran down the sidewalk and was shot several more times before he collapsed.

In an interview with investigators Saturday at Southern Nevada Memorial Hospital he refused to name the person who was with him at the Simms home.

The hospital has refused all other visitors except Durbin's wife, a teenage daughter and a priest.

Reprinted from Las Vegas Sun

February 23, 1970

LV Burglary Suspect Shot by Lawmen Dies

Alleged burglar John Durbin, shot down in a hail of police gunfire Feb. 6 as he entered a darkened home apparently with criminal intent, died Sunday afternoon as a result of his wounds.

The 42-year-old Durbin had a lengthy police record and had been scheduled to appear in District Court for sentencing on a plea of guilty to robbery and forgery before he was shot.

Durbin was wounded while allegedly breaking into the home of Chester Simms, 1308 S. 6th St . Simms, a former owner of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas , was in Miami Beach vacationing with his family when the incident occurred.

Officers at the time said Durbin was shot after he first fired a gun inside the house at one of five detectives waiting for the burglar, they said.

It was later determined that Durbin had no weapon and what officers thought to be a gun in his hand was in reality a screwdriver.

An accomplice who accompanied Durbin to the Simms home managed to escape when the shooting began.

Durbin was hit at least once at close range inside the house, but managed to flee through a side door which he had just broken open, and ran down the sidewalk where he was struck again by a hail of shotgun and pistol fire.

His condition had remained critical until his death Sunday.

Reprinted from Las Vegas Sun

February 24, 1970

Inquest To Be Set For Suspect Slain By Police Bullets

By HAROLD HYMAN

SUN Staff Writer

An inquest was to be scheduled today into circumstances surrounding the death of John Durbin, 42, who succumbed Sunday to multiple bullet wounds at the hands of police while allegedly breaking into a darkened home Feb. 6 with apparent intent to burglarize it.

To be held by the Clark County Coroner's Office, the inquest is not expected to begin until next week. A formal date will be placed on the Coroner's calendar today.

Officers Feb. 6 said Durbin was shot after he first fired a gun inside the house at one of the five detectives waiting in the darkened room.

It was later determined that Durbin had no weapon and what detectives thought was a gun in his hand was in reality a screwdriver.

Hospital sources said surgery on the wounded man's abdomen and legs brought out numerous .00 shotgun pellets and about two bullets each that appeared to be .38 and .357 calibers.

Durbin, of 2545 Valley St. , had a lengthy criminal record. He had been scheduled to appear in District Court for sentencing on a plea of guilty to robbery and forgery before he was shot.

A combined force of city and county detectives were on stakeout in the house, 1308 S. 6th St. , for the second night waiting for the burglar, they said.

An accomplice who accompanied Durbin to the residence managed to escape when the shooting began.

Durbin was hit at least once at close range inside the house, but managed to flee through a door he had just broken open, and ran down the sidewalk where he was truck again by a hail of gunfire.

His condition had remained critical until his death Sunday.

Reprinted from Las Vegas Sun

February 25, 1970

Inquest Into Slaying of Suspect Scheduled

An inquest into the fatal police shooting of alleged burglar John Durbin, 42, has been scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday in a courtroom in the Clark County Courthouse, the Coroner's Office reported Tuesday.

Durbin, 2545 Valley St. , succumbed Sunday after being shot Feb. 6 during an apparent break-in of a home in which city and county detectives were waiting.

Reprinted from Las Vegas Sun

February 28, 1970

Halt! Sheriff's officers

By BILL GANG

Sun Staff Writer

A three member Clark County Coroner's Jury Friday cleared sheriff's deputies and city police of any wrongdoing in the shooting of burglary suspect John Durbin.

Durbin, 42, was gunned down in a hail of shotgun fire by sheriff's deputies on Feb. 6. He died 16 days later of "complications" at Southern Nevada Memorial Hospital.

The three sheriff's deputies and two city detectives who had laid in wait for Durbin in a plush house at 1308 South 6th St. were the star witnesses at the inquest and each told basically the same story.

None of the five, however, repeated a story told newsmen the night of the shooting that Durbin set off the incident by firing a shot at sheriff's Lt. Conrad Simmons.

Simmons, who was the first to shoot at Durbin, told the two man, one woman jury he was crouched in the rear hallway of the home as Durbin and a companion allegedly broke in.

Simmons, who was wielding a 12-gauge shotgun, said that as he was waiting for Durbin to sneak into the bedroom area of the house he heard what sounded like two small caliber shots.

An instant later Durbin stumbled onto Simmons' hiding place and the lieutenant said he yelled, "Halt" sheriff's officers.

Simmons told the jury Durbin wheeled and ran.

"Fearing he was armed, I fired at him as he darted across the living room," Simmons stated.

From there, Durbin reportedly ran to the kitchen door he had kicked in moments before, but as he was swinging it closed behind him sheriff's deputy Arky Hanley fired a shot gun blast, catching the burglar in the stomach.

Durbin, despite the massive wound, reportedly raced across the front lawn of the house, and Simmons and Hanley shot at the suspect from the front porch with shotguns. Police Lt. John Conner testified he shot at Durbin once with a .357 magnum pistol but apparently missed.

Chief county medical examiner, Dr. James Clarke, told the jury there were more than a dozen buckshot wounds in Durbin's stomach; with all of them in the front or the side.

Durbin crumpled a half block away from the house in a pool of blood.

The gun Durbin was said to have used was never found, although three screwdrivers and a pry bar were discovered, and sheriff's office Capt. Gene Clark eventually told the press Simmons was mistaken and there never was a gun.

Each of the five officers, however, told of hearing the same sharp sounds which may have led Simmons to believe Durbin was armed.

Durbin's accomplice, who Conner said slipped out the kitchen door a moment before Durbin, was mentioned only briefly during the inquest and no testimony identified him as a police informant.

Capt. Clark testified the informant told his department Durbin was going to break into a safe in the house, however the jury, composed of Mark Gamet , Dr. Clinton Maupin and Mrs. Rose Ricci, were told there was no safe in the house.

Although the jurors were hand picked by Clark County Coroner Otto Ravenholt , apparently none of them were aware of the case and Dr. Maupin admitted to not knowing the most basic elements of the incident.

The jury deliberated less than half an hour before declaring the death justifiable homicide.

 


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