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WDAY: The News Leader

Published October 14, 2013, 06:48 PM

60 on 6: 1983 shootout in Medina

Medina, ND (WDAY TV) - It would be a North Dakota tragedy that would later turn into Hollywood Films and "best-selling books." And it still remains one of our state's "crimes of the century."

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

Medina, ND (WDAY TV) - It would be a North Dakota tragedy that would later turn into Hollywood Films and "best-selling books." And it still remains one of our state's "crimes of the century."

As WDAY 6 News marks its 60th year on the air, we take a look back at stories that changed our region.

When he returned to North Dakota after World War II, Gordon Kahl was celebrated as a decorated turret gunner. By the end of his life, he would be remembered as the man who sparked the ambush of killing of two US Marshalls.

It would happen near Medina, North Dakota, February 1983. Kahl, a member of the tax protest group Posse Comitatus, lay in wait as North Dakota US Marshalls and law enforcement attempted to arrest him.

Kahl, his family and other sympathizers began shooting as they came upon a roadblock. US Marshall Ken Muir and Deputy Marshall Bob Cheshire were killed; three other lawmen injured.

Years later, Deputy Marshall Carl Wigglesworth would talk about the carnage.

Carl Wigglesworth- Deputy US Marshall- Fargo: “What bothered me the most: I came around the back of the Ram Charger and found Bobby Cheshire. The condition of him; he had no head. From his eyes up… Gone.”

Following the shootout, hundreds of federal, state and local authorities would comb North Dakota looking for Kahl. His wife pleaded for his surrender.

Joan Kahl- Wife of Gordon Kahl: “Others are going to be hurt. I don't want you to die, too. Please; I can't take anymore. Please turn yourself in.”

But Kahl was on the run, staying in Posse Comitatus safe houses along the way to Arkansas. Four months later, acting on a tip, the FBI and swat teams fired thousands of rounds of ammo into the farmhouse Kahl was hiding in. A sheriff died in the shootout there and the house went up in flames. Kahl's charred body was found inside.

“Kahl shot the sheriff. We put our swat team, the marshal service and FBI; started shooting and put gas in the house and started the fire.”

Those with Kahl near Medina, North Dakota that day were sent to federal prison and would have no remorse.

Yori Kahl- Son of Gordon Kahl: “We weren't criminals. It was a necessary thing to do. If they would have put their guns down, that would have been it.”

The story would later be retold on movie screens and in books.

The real drama unfolded on a lonely, cold road in North Dakota 30 years ago. To this day, even those involved in the case agree: Nobody won.

Gordon Kahl's son, Yori, convicted of ambushing the marshals, is still serving time in a federal prison. His release date is set for 10 years from now. Scott Faul, the other convicted shooter, could be released in 2023.

Gordon's wife, Joan, is living in Carrington.

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