Walter M. Gilbert

Image of Special Agent Walter M. Gilbert
Date of Birth: 
Date of Death: 
July 22, 1931
Location of Death: 
Fort Wayne, IN
Image of the Department of the Treasury, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms badge

Circumstances of Death

Prohibition Agents Walter Gilbert, John Wilson and Oliver Cetteland had arranged to make an undercover purchase of illicit liquor from George Adams in Fort Wayne, IN.  Adams, a convicted felon, was on recent parole from prison for a previous Federal liquor violation.  Agents Wilson and Gilbert were accompanied by additional agents in separate automobiles.  They proceeded to the agreed upon meeting location, on the lower Huntington Road near Waynesdale, in Allen County.

At the meeting site, Agent Wilson approached Adams' vehicle to consummate the purchase of liquor, but Adams apparently became suspicious and drew a .45 caliber pistol and threatened to kill him.  Agent Gilbert, fearing for Wilson's safety, fired several shots through Adams' windshield slightly wounding him.  Adams returned fire killing Agent Wilson.  More gunfire was exchanged, during which Agent Gilbert was also shot and badly wounded.  Adams wounded two other agents before making his escape.  Agent Gilbert was rushed to Lutheran Hospital, but died that evening. Adams was captured by agents and police the following day.


Agent Gilbert joined the Bureau of Prohibition on April 27, 1929, with an annual salary of $2,600.  He carried badge #88.


Agent Gilbert was born in Los Angeles, CA.  He was survived by his wife, Minnie and their three children, including a daughter, Mary.

Associated Artifacts: 
John Wilson and Walter Gilbert, undercover agents killed
Newspaper article with headline: Dry Agent's Widow Unable to Believe News of His Death
Image of telegram regarding death of Walter Gilbert
Image of telegraph notification of shooting of Walter Gilbert
Image of telegram regarding use of photos in shooting of Walter Gilbert
Image of newspaper article in the The Charleston Gazette with headline: Two Dry Agents Slain in Fight
Image of The Ogden Standard Examiner, dated July 29, 1931 with headling: Trapped Rum Runner Slays Federal Men
Image from The Kingsport Times, dated, July 29, 1931, with photo and headline: Bootlegger Kills U.S. Agents
Last Reviewed September 23, 2016