The Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre is one of the most publicized mob slayings in American history. It took place on the 14th of February, 1929, and it was arranged by Chicago mob boss Al Capone, who wanted to eliminate George “Bugs” Moran and his gang. The massacre was very cleverly planned by Jack “Machine Gun” McGurn, who was one of Capone’s most trusted men, but it was considered a failure because Moran, the main target, escaped.
Capone used a bootlegger to lure Moran and his henchmen to a warehouse, where they were supposed to collect a shipment of smuggled whiskey that was exceptionally low-priced. Moran and his gang were told to show up at a warehouse on North Clark Street on Valentine’s Day. The time of the meeting was 10.30 am.
On that day, seven of Moran’s henchmen arrived at the warehouse early, and these men were John May, James Clark, Peter and Frank Gusenberg, Reinhardt Schwimmer, Adam Heyer, and Albert Weinshank. Moran was late for the meeting, and he was accompanied by two of his henchmen, Ted Newbury and Willy Marks. As their car turned into North Clarke Street, they saw a police car approaching the warehouse. Five men, with three of them wearing police uniforms, came out of the car and walked into the warehouse. Moran thought that they were policemen, so he and his henchmen left the scene immediately.
When Capone’s men entered the warehouse, they ordered Moran’s men to form a line facing the wall. Since they were disguised as cops, they managed to fool Moran’s men into thinking that it was just a routine arrest. Moran’s men did as they were told. Once their backs were turned, Capone’s men fired Thompson machine guns at them, and six of them were killed on the spot. The seventh man, Frank Gusenberg, managed to escape the scene, and he made his way to the Alexian Brothers Hospital. He died at the hospital shortly after he arrived.
Immediately after the massacre, the press received news about the crime. The incident made the front pages of a number of newspapers in the country, and it became known as “The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre”. The publicity created a great deal of fame for Capone, but it also attracted the attention of officials from the federal law enforcement department. Moran was sure that it was Capone who ordered the assassinations, and he tried to convince the authorities to arrest Capone, but they did not have enough evidence to bring him to trial. Capone was in his Miami home when the massacre took place, and Jack McGurn managed to prove that he was somewhere else during the time of the killings. In the end, nobody was tried for the murders.
The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre truly showed how daring and brutal gangland wars were during the 1920s. Gangland struggles are less intense nowadays because law enforcement is much more efficient in the US. Or maybe, modern mobsters prefer to go dating on St. Valentine’s Day.
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