• Visitor during the evening tour of Alcatraz gaze into the many cells that line up the corridor known as

    Alcatraz Island

    California

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The Man Who Tried to Kill Al Capone

Inmate James "Tex" Lucas

Jimmy "Tex" Lucas

National Archives & Records Administration Photo

In 1934, James "Tex" Lucas was serving 30 years in federal prison for bank robbery and auto theft. The Texas native also had a detainer in his home state that totaled 128 years. Charges included murder, robbery, and escape.
In January of 1935, he and his crime partner Jack Hardin were transferred to Alcatraz from Leavenworth for closer custody. Lucas was 22-years-old.

Lucas proved to be a troublemaker at Alcatraz. He participated in a work strike in 1936 and was known to engage in clandestine conduct on a consistent basis. On June, 23, 1936, Lucas viciously attacked Al Capone in the shower room. Using half of a pair of scissors, he slashed the Chicago gangster several times. Capone suffered a minor chest wound and superficial cuts to his hands. All Lucas said in his own defense was “Well he threatened to kill me.” He subsequently lost all his good time, 3600 days.

Almost two years later, he took part in a violent escape attempt. While at work in the Model Industries building on May 23 1938, Lucas, Thomas Limerick, and Rufus “Whitey” Franklin overpowered Officer Royal C. Cline and beat him to death with a claw hammer. Once on the roof, they assaulted the guard tower. From the tower, Officer Harold P. Stites shot and killed Limerick and wounded Franklin. Lucas surrendered without incident. Franklin and Lucas received life sentences murder. Both men spent long terms in isolation. Lucas was returned to the general population after six years; Franklin after 14.

Within a few years, “Tex” was transferred and later paroled in 1958. Franklin was freed in 1974 and died shortly thereafter. Officer Stites was killed during a 1946 prison riot.

Lucas briefly returned to prison at McNeil Island as a parole violator. He received a presidential commutation of sentence and was released.

Eventually, Jimmy Lucas married and raised four children. He worked in the oil business and remained a law abiding citizen for the rest of his life, but is remembered as the man who stabbed Al Capone. Lucas died on November 28 1998.

Did You Know?

Thumbnail of Western Gull chicks in a nest.

After incubation lasting four weeks, a gull chick breaks out of its egg without assistance from its parents. At hatching, the chick is fully covered with down and is soon able to open its eyes and stand up to walk about the nest.