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David Emery

Cops to Gunman: 'Potato Silencer' Is an Urban Legend

By June 3, 2006

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The Miami Herald reports that 23-year-old Shane Thompson was arrested last month after threatening to shoot the mother of his child with a handgun equipped with a raw potato for a silencer. Thompson reportedly told the victim that no one would be able to hear the gun if he fired it at her. She escaped before he could put it to the test.

Police say the gunman was duped by an old urban legend. "It was fine in Dick Tracy, but in real life, it's not true," a firearms technician told the Herald. "You're going to have potato salad 360 degrees from the muzzle."

The misconception, reinforced by unrealistic depictions in movies and TV shows, apparently dates back to mobster tales from the Prohibition era. Real-life incidents have proven the tactic more messy than effective.

In San Diego, a woman was convicted of trying to murder her husband four times, including one attempt using a potato-muzzled pistol. "Stephen Tepatti told police he was sleeping on the couch when he heard a gunshot and saw a woman who looked like his wife run out," reported the San Diego Union-Tribune. "Bits of potato were found on the floor."

In Muncie, Indiana, would-be robber Dustin Fredericksen "held a revolver to a potato as if it was a silencer" and fired at pawn shop owner Adam Kennedy. He missed. Kennedy fired back and felled the criminal. "Since the robbery, Kennedy has reopened his pawn shop," reports the Northwest Indiana Times, "although it was closed for nearly a day while he cleaned up pieces of the potato splattered throughout the store when Fredericksen tried unsuccessfully to use it as a silencer."  Full story...


March 5, 2008 at 7:01 pm
(1) Tark says:

Words can not express how absurd this is. Potato salad. lol. Just… lol.

September 23, 2008 at 4:01 am
(2) kiwpn tefwyohs says:

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