Fact of the day: 14th February

First of all, Happy Valentine’s Day J Hope you all enjoy!

On this day in 1929 seven people, six of them gangster rivals of Al Capone’s gang are murdered in Chicago. It became known as Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre – It worries me how many people think this is why we celebrate Valentine’s Day!

This massacre was allegedly planned by the Capone mob in retaliation for an unsuccessful attempt by Frank Gusenberg and his brother Peter to murder Jack McGurn earlier in the year and for the North Side Gang’s complicity in the murders of Pasqualino “Patsy” Lolordo and Antonio “The Scourge” Lombardo – both had been presidents of the Unione Siciliana, the local Mafia, and close associates of Capone. Bugs Moran’s muscling in on a Capone-run dog track in the Chicago suburbs, his takeover of several Capone-owned saloons that he insisted were in his territory, and the general rivalry between Moran and Capone for complete control of the lucrative Chicago bootlegging business were probable contributing factors to this incident.

On St. Valentine’s Day, most of the Moran gang had already arrived at the warehouse by approximately 10:30 AM. Moran was not there, having left his Parkway Hotel apartment late. As Moran and one of his men, Ted Newberry, approached the rear of the warehouse from a side street they saw the police car pull up. They immediately turned and retraced their steps, going to a nearby coffee shop. On the way, they ran into another gang member, Henry Gusenberg, and warned him away from the place. A fourth gang member, Willie Marks, was also on his way to the garage when he spotted the police car. Ducking into a doorway, he jotted down the license number before leaving the neighborhood.

Capone’s lookouts likely mistook one of Moran’s men for Moran himself – probably Albert Weinshank, who was the same height and build. That morning the physical similarity between the two men was enhanced by their dress: both happened to be wearing the same color overcoats and hats. Witnesses outside the garage saw a Cadillac sedan pull to a stop in front of the garage. Four men, two dressed in police uniform, emerged and walked inside. The two fake police officers, carrying shotguns, entered the rear portion of the garage and found members of Moran’s gang and two gang collaborators, Reinhart Schwimmer and John May, who was fixing one of the trucks. The “police officers” then ordered the men to line up against the wall.

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The two “police officers” then signaled to the pair in civilian clothes who had accompanied them. Two of the killers opened fire with Thompson sub-machine guns, one containing a 20-round box magazine and the other a 50-round drum. They were thorough, spraying their victims left and right, even continuing to fire after all seven had hit the floor. The seven men were ripped apart in the volley, and two shotgun blasts afterward all but obliterated the faces of John May and James Clark, according to the coroner’s report.

To give the appearance that everything was under control, the men in street clothes came out with their hands up, prodded by the two uniformed police officers. Inside the garage, the only survivor in the warehouse was Frank Gusenberg. Despite fourteen bullet wounds, he was still conscious, but died three hours later, refusing to utter a word about the identities of the killers.

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