Bonnie Parker (October 1, 1910 – May 23, 1934) and Clyde Barrow (March 24, 1909 – May 23, 1934) were well known outlaws, robbers and criminals who, with their gang, travelled the Central United States during the Great Depression. Their exploits captured the attention of the American public during what is sometimes referred to as the "public enemy era" between 1931 and 1934. Though known today for his dozen-or-so bank robberies, Barrow in fact preferred to rob small stores or rural gas stations. The gang is believed to have killed at least nine police officers and committed several civilian murders. They were eventually ambushed and killed in Louisiana by law officers. Their reputation was cemented forever in American pop folklore by Arthur Penn's 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde.
Author Jeff Guinn, in his 2009 book Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde, explains that it was these very photos that put the outlaws on the media map and launched their legend: "John Dillinger had matinee-idol good looks and Pretty Boy Floyd had the best possible nickname, but the Joplin photos introduced new criminal superstars with the most titillating trademark of all — illicit sex. Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were young and unmarried. They undoubtedly slept together — after all, the girl smoked cigars... Without Bonnie, the media outside Texas might have dismissed Clyde as a gun-toting punk, if it ever considered him at all. With her sassy photographs, Bonnie supplied the sex-appeal, the oomph, that allowed the two of them to transcend the small-scale thefts and needless killings that actually comprised their criminal careers."
All accounts of the ambush, including his own, agree that Oakley fired first, and probably before any order was given to do so. Barrow was killed instantly by Oakley's initial head shot, but Parker had a moment to reflect; Hinton reported hearing her scream as she realized Barrow was dead before the shooting at her began in earnest. The officers emptied the specially-ordered automatic rifles, as well as other rifles, shotguns and pistols at the car, and any one of many wounds would have been fatal to either of the fugitives. According to statements made by Ted Hinton and Bob Alcorn: