2. Sam Cowley—John Dillinger
Sam Crowley wasn't supposed to become an FBI agent, let alone a national hero. No, Cowley was supposed to be an attorney, but when he entered the workforce on the same day the stock market crashed on October 24, 1929, he had to look outside the box for a job.
Instead, Cowley ended up in Washington D.C. working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Moving quickly through the ranks, Cowley was promoted to the rank of inspector after only five years at the bureau.
His work eventually led FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, to approach Cowley with a request: find the infamous gangster John Dillinger.
Dillinger was a notorious bank robber, gang leader, and murderer during the Great Depression era. From September 1933 until July 1934, Dillinger and his gang murdered 10 men, staged three prison breaks, and robbed multiple banks and police arsenals.
Dillinger had eluded police and FBI agents during his crime sprees, so Hoover asked Cowley, with his promising career as an FBI inspector, to find this man.
But Cowley went a step further. Not only did Cowley locate Dillinger, he also organized a plan to capture the notorious gangster. On July 22, 1934, Dillinger entered the Biograph Theater for a showing of Manhattan Melodrama; he had no idea Cowley had stationed FBI agents at all the exits. As Dillinger was leaving, he began to notice what was going on and pulled out a gun. Almost immediately, three FBI agents fired their guns, killing Dillinger in a hail of gunfire and ending his crime and killing sprees.