50 Years Ago: Police Kill Would-Be Firestone Kidnappers


Fifty years ago, police foiled an attempt to kidnap a well-known industrialist. Our story comes courtesy of the The Herald-Press of St. Joseph, Michigan.

Kidnappers Foiled, Killed!

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Pistols raised, two men crashed into the home of Leonard K. Firestone Thursday night in an apparent attempt to kidnap the wealthy industrialist. Staked-out police killed both with shotgun blasts.

Cal Bailey, 40, was killed instantly as he attempted to rush into the living room of the palatial home. George Scalla, 28, fell wounded on the threshhold and died three hours later in the prison ward of General Hospital. They held three guns, but never got a chance to fire a shot.

Police said the men may have planned to ask $2 million in ransom.

The deaths ended three weeks of police undercover work, during which the proposed kidnapping was tipped by an undisclosed source. Firestone, 58, was warned to leave the city.

“This has been a very distressing and upsetting thing to have gone through,” said the president of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. of Calif. at the home of a friend in San Francisco Thursday night. He complimented the police for a “thorough, intelligent, masterful job.”

Capt. John E. Haukins, chief of Beverly Hills detectives, told this sequence of events:

First hint of the kidnap came three weeks ago in connection with a burglary that took place in the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles police. Ten days ago, the tipster disclosed that the intended victim was Firestone, the handsome son of rubber empire founder Harvey S. Firestone.

“I was very much disturbed and concerned,” said the industrialist. “I just made up my mind that I would try to work with the police as best I could.”


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