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Contributed photo

Boone County Heritage Museum executive director Toinette Madison shows Massad Ayoob the Winchester rifle that was used to kill notorious bank robber Henry Starr in Harrison in 1921.

It’s not uncommon for Boone County Heritage Museum executive director Toinette Madison to help people with research, but one recent event found her efforts recognized in a national shooting magazine.

Madison explained that she was contacted by a man named Massad Ayoob. He was doing research on the infamous Henry Starr, the man who claimed to have robbed more banks in the country that anyone.

That claim might have been true, but Starr met his end in 1921 when he was robbing a bank in Harrison and was shot down by William J. Myers with a Winchester Model 1873 rifle.

Madison knows the story well, but Ayoob was a different story.

“I didn’t know him when we started out,” Madison said.

She began giving him information for the piece he said he was writing for American Handgunner magazine. Then, Ayoob visited the museum in person. He wanted to see, possibly even hold the gun with which Starr was shot. She said that wouldn’t be a problem and took him to the display case.

“He was just really surprised that I was willing to let him do that,” Madison said. “We took it out of the case and he held it and his wife took a lot of pictures.

“He was just a really great guy. Like I said, I didn’t realize who he was until it was over.”

When he left and some other museum patrons stopped in that she began to get the idea. They were, to say the least, disappointed that they missed him.

As it turns out, Ayoob is something of a legend in the shooting community. He has taught self-defense classes for decades.

According to his biography, Ayoob has been handgun editor of Guns magazine and law enforcement editor of American Handgunner since the 1970s, and has published thousands of articles in gun magazines, martial arts publications and law enforcement journals. He is the author of more than a dozen books on firearms, self-defense and related topics.

The story in the most recent American Handgunner magazine may be about Starr, but it’s a great deal deeper than that. The real story is about Myers, a regular citizen who was armed and took out a bad guy. Starr had actually been shot once before during a bank robbery in Stroud, Oklahoma, again by an average citizen who was armed.

Ayoob, who will turn 71 later this month, maintains that people involved in a situation have to be the real first responders. They are on the ground as it’s happening and can make all the difference in the outcome.

His research led him to the museum and Madison. So, when he was on an annual trip to teach classes in northwest Arkansas, he visited the Natural State a day early to see the gun for himself.

“Toinette was enormously helpful,” Ayoob told the Daily Times.

Ayoob’s piece about Starr appears in the American Hangunner under the series name “The Ayoob Files,” which he said he has been writing for more than 30 years.

He writes that it was Madison who was able to confirm the historical data he needed for the story

Madison said it was an honor to be mentioned in Ayoob’s story. Even her 30-year-old son admitted his mom was “pretty cool” after she was mentioned in the magazine.

In a recent email to Madison, Ayoob confirmed that.

“Please tell your son I said his mom is indeed the coolest!” Ayoob wrote.

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