John Herbert Dillinger (June 22, 1903 – July 22, 1934) was an American gangster in the Depression-era United States. He operated with a group of men known by some as the Dillinger Gang or Terror Gang, which was accused of robbing 24 banks and four police stations, among other activities. Dillinger escaped from jail twice. He was also charged with, but never convicted of, the murder of an East Chicago, Indiana, police officer who shot Dillinger in his bullet-proof vest during a shootout, prompting him to return fire. It was Dillinger's only homicide charge.
Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Bonnie and Clyde, as evidenced by the fact that decades later, the first major book about 1930s gangsters was titled The Dillinger Days. He courted publicity, styling himself as a Robin Hood figure, and the media of his time ran exaggerated accounts of his bravado and colorful personality, causing the government to demand federal action. In response, the Director of the Bureau of Investigation, J. Edgar Hoover, developed a more sophisticated Federal Bureau of Investigation as a weapon against organized crime, using Dillinger and his gang as his campaign platform.
After evading police in four states for almost a year, Dillinger was wounded and returned to his father's home to recover. He returned to Chicago in July 1934 and met his end at the hands of police and federal agents who were informed of his whereabouts by Ana Cumpănaş (the owner of the brothel where Dillinger had sought refuge at the time). On July 22, 1934, the police and the Division of Investigation closed in on the Biograph Theater. Federal agents, led by Melvin Purvis and Samuel P. Cowley, moved to arrest Dillinger as he exited the theater. He drew a weapon and attempted to flee, but was shot four times and killed.