Reporting Reg Chapman
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — At Minneapolis Police’s Fifth Precinct Headquarters, the story behind a small revolver with a bullet sticking out of the barrel has remained a mystery – until now. Now, a retired police officer is remembering the day a fired bullet didn’t leave the muzzle.
The revolver has been on display for nearly five decades, but its explanation was lost in the shuffle.
“Between two or three different precinct stations, anything about the gun got lost,” Retired Minneapolis Police Officer Bill Mavity said.
Recently, a woman attending a community meeting there noticed the gun. Unlike the thousands of strangers who’ve stopped and seen it, she knew the story of how it saved Mavity, her father.
Mavity remembers the day the revolver didn’t go off 46 years ago.
The gun belonged to Charles Wallerich, a bank robber also wanted for kidnapping. In October 1966, he drove to Florence Heldman’s home in the city of Staples, Minn.
“She knew right away when he pulled the gun that he was the robber that had robbed the Staples bank the day before,” Mavity said.
Wallerich took Heldman hostage and forced her to drive him to Minneapolis. When they reached Lyndale Avenue and 32nd Avenue, she noticed a marked police car with Mavity and another officer, Dennis Weiss, inside.
“She pulled her car over to the curb, jumped out, he was kind of half dozing, and she ran towards our squad car, waving her arms,” Mavity said.
Mavity said Wallerich then came up behind Heldman with the gun. He fired, but never hit the officers. The bullet was stuck in the muzzle.
After a short chase, they arrested Wallerich.
Mavity and Weiss received commendations for the arrest, considered one of the top five arrests of the year in 1966. They were also awarded a new 1967 Ford Galaxy for their efforts.
On Sunday, for Mavity’s 75th birthday, his family presented a copy of the original newspaper article of the arrest to the fifth precinct.
Now, the true story behind the gun and the two lives saved is forever memorialized.