A Bank Robbery in Merricourt
Self Defense on the Back Roads
Roy Michaelson listed his occupation as a professional Boxer from Minneapolis Minnesota. His record in sanctioned bouts was 1 win, 1 loss, and 1 draw. In all likelihood he fought in many unsanctioned fights across the Midwest in his brief stint in the ring.
In late 1930 his career had brought him to Merricourt, North Dakota, there he became friends with the local moon shiners, the Brossart Brothers, spending the holidays and the first weeks of 1931 at their farm North West of town. On January 12, 1931 three Brossart Brothers, John Ellingson, and the Boxer Roy Michaelson robbed Jenner Merchandise in downtown Merricourt, while no one witnessed the crime a local Gas Station attendant noticed the Brossart car at the store late on a Saturday night. When the robbery was discovered on Sunday morning Dickey County Sheriff B. W. Crandall was called and after a brief chase arrested the Brossarts, Ellingson, and Michaelson and recovered $500 in stolen merchandise. The Sheriff also discovered 15 gallons of illegal booze at the farm.
On the trip to the jail at Ellendale the Brossarts and Ellingson were put in the deputy’s car. The Pro Boxer, Roy Michaelson was the only prisoner transported in the Sheriff’s car. While the two cars left together they became separated and were not traveling together as they approached Ellendale. According to Sheriff Crandall two miles out of Ellendale the prisoner tried to overpower him, forcing the car into the ditch. In a brief struggle the sheriff was forced to shoot and kill Roy Michaelson. While local speculation questioned whether the shooting was actually self defense a local coroner’s inquest convened two days after the incident ruled it a justifiable homicide.
Great Stories of the Great Plains Vol. 1