Blaine border agents involved in 1936 shooting posthumously honored

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The Washington State Attorney General’s Office will honor two border agents involved in a deadly shooting in Blaine almost 80 years after the incident.

Charles Flachs and Leroy Pike will posthumously receive the Washington Law Enforcement Medal of Honor at a ceremony in Olympia on May 8. The two border patrol agents were working at the Pacific border crossing in 1936 when a gunfight with a Canadian gangster left Pike wounded and Flachs dead.

The attorney general’s office has awarded the Medal of Honor to officers killed or wounded in the line of duty since 1994. Flachs and Pike are among 11 historical recipients of the award this year.

Flachs and Pike will be mentioned at the May 8 reception, but the event will focus more on the 10 contemporary recipients of the award. A dedicated historical ceremony will be held at a later date.

The Behind the Badge Foundation, which honors officers killed in the line of duty, will also honor Flachs at a ceremony on May 8.

The shooting in question occurred on May 28, 1936. Flachs, an immigration inspector, and Pike, a customs inspector, were investigating a bus traveling from Vancouver to Seattle. One passenger, who identified himself as “James Arthur Fraser” but could not provide identification, struck the officers as suspicious.

The man was actually Edward McMullen, a fugitive member of the notorious Norman “Red” Ryan gang of Ontario. Royal Canadian Mounted Police suspected McMullen in a liquor store robbery in Ontario. Ryan, fellow gang member Harry Checkley and police officer John Lewis died during the robbery.

When Pike attempted to search McMullen, he pulled a gun and began firing. The unarmed Pike attempted to wrestle the gun away from McMullen and took two bullets, one shot grazing his arm and another scraping his ribcage.

Flachs, who was running in to help, was shot in the heart and died at the scene. McMullen attempted to shoot Pike in the head, but Pike was able to deflect the pistol back at McMullen.

The bullet struck McMullen in the face just below the eye. Police transferred McMullen to Seattle General Hospital, where he died the next day.

Flachs, a World War I veteran who served at the Blaine station for five years, was buried in Seattle a few days later.

Pike survived his wounds, left the border patrol in 1937 and served as the mayor of Blaine in the 1950s. He retired to King County until his death in 1960.

For a detailed account of the shooting, visit bit.ly/1Hkdzk9.

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