It was somewhere near the beginning of 1930 when Bonnie Parker first set eyes on Clyde Barrow in a romanticized version of love at first sight. Bonnie was married, but separated from her husband. She was an out-of-work seamstress; Clyde had been born poor and didn't know any different. He'd first been arrested at seventeen and sent to prison at twenty. In prison, he was sexually assaulted repeatedly. It was then that Clyde Barrow learned a skill -- he learned how to kill. Ralph Fults, a fellow inmate, said he watched Barrow turn from "a school boy to a rattle snake." Clyde used a lead pipe to cave in the skull of his attacker. Two years later, the state of Texas declared him rehabilitated and released him at the height of the Great Depression.
After his release, Clyde takes up robbery full time. He likes hitting the small targets, like gas stations and grocery stores. On April 30, 1932, he is accused of killing a store owner in Hillsboro, Texas. Bonnie, in jail at the time, had been captured in a bungled burglary. She later beats the charge for lack of evidence. She writes poetry while in jail, writing "The Story of Suicide Sal" and the autobiographical, "The Trail's End," later renamed "The Story of Bonnie and Clyde"; after all, she is only a kid of twenty-two.
In August, while Bonnie is visiting her mother, Clyde and some of the boys attend a dance in Oklahoma. Sheriff C.G. Maxwell and Deputy Eugene Moore spot them drinking in the parking lot and move in to make arrests. Barrow and another man opened fire, killing the deputy and wounding the Sheriff. Eight weeks later, Barrow kills Howard Hall during a robbery. He kills Doyle Jackson while stealing Jackson's car. In January, Clyde kills a deputy sheriff after the pair stumble into a trap set for someone else.
Buck Barrow, Clyde's brother, was newly released from prison, joining the gang with his wife, Blanche. The gang was hiding out in Joplin, Missouri, only they weren't doing much hiding. Holding alcohol-fueled marathon poker games, they were loud and noisy; the neighbors suspected they were bootleggers. But after Clyde accidentally discharged his Browning automatic rifle (BAR), the neighbors tipped-off the cops. The cops assemble five lawmen in two cars to confront the "bootleggers." Though surprised, the gang escapes after killing two policemen. Bonnie is alleged to have laid down covering fire during the escape, wounding a highway patrolman.
Escaping, the gang loses most of their belongings and weapons as well as several rolls of film. The Joplin Globe publishes the photos, making Bonnie and Clyde national news. For the next three months the gang goes on a spree, robbing banks from Texas to Minnesota. They kidnap a couple in Louisiana stealing their car; later releasing them with money. Their fame is making hiding out progressively more difficult; motels and restaurants are now out. They camp out, bathing in rivers. Five people in one car for long hours make squabbles inevitable.
On June 10th, Clyde misses a construction sign, flipping the car into a ravine. Bonnie suffers third degree burns and can barely walk. The gang hides in a tourist court near Fort Smith, Arkansas, but are soon forced to flee, landing just outside Kansas City. They draw attention to themselves by their fancy clothes and seeking out bandages. Law enforcement officers from four states are closing in. An armored car is on the way, but the law decides to move in with Thompson sub machine guns. From a distance, they are no match for Clyde's BAR. Buck Barrow is mortally wounded in the shootout, his wife Blanche, nearly blinded by glass fragments.
Clyde, Bonnie and W.D. Jones escape on foot and rob small stores for the next six weeks while trying to keep a low profile. They spread out West to Colorado, North to Minnesota and as far South as Mississippi. In August, Jones and Barrow burgle a National Guard armory in Illinois, obtaining new Browning automatic rifles. September finds them back in Dallas, Jones heads out. Meanwhile, Bonnie is treated for her injury by her mother. In November, they narrowly evade capture, trying to meet with family in Sowers, Texas. Barrow, suspecting a trap, drives past his family's car without stopping, at which point the lawmen open fire.
In January, Clyde engineers the Eastman prison breakout. During the raid a prison guard is killed giving the gang the undivided attention of state and federal officials. The prison warden vows "all involved in the breakout will be hunted down and killed." In April, the gang kills two Highway Patrolmen in Grapevine, Texas. Bounty money is flowing in from numerous sources. Five days later, the gang kills a sixty year old constable.