Thursday, February 14, 2013

THE ST. VALENTINE'S DAY MASSACRE

2/14/1929 - Kisses, hugs, and candy give way in Chicago to bullets, blood, and death as Al Capone tries to end his feud with the North Side Gang by killing its leader in an event that will go down in the annuals of crime as the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.

                     
                                                          Big News

Planned for weeks, Capone's men rent rooms across the street from the headquarters of bootlegger George "Bugs" Moran to observe his comings and goings and those of his gang, the assassins practice their roles in the coming crime, a hook is set that a highjacked load of Old Log Cabin whiskey will be available for delivery at low price of $57 a case, and Sir Scarface, the man everyone will know is responsible, gives himself an alibi by being on vacation on Palm Island in Florida.  Everything is in place on Valentine's Day, 1929.

   
                                                              The Hook

Ready to take delivery of the bargain booze at the scheduled time of 10:30 in the morning, in eighteen degree weather as snow flakes drift about on the wind, a group of men gather at "S.M.C. Cartage Company" ... a dingy brick one-story brick building located at 2122 North Clark Street.  The coming unfortunates consist of:

*John May, thirty-five, father of seven, with a record of being arrested for larceny and robbery, he deliveries booze for the gang.
*Adam Heyer, operating by the name of Frank Synder, forty, married to his second wife for seven months, Moran's business manager and accountant.
*Albert Kachellek, thirty-nine, calling himself James Clark, a hitman for the gang.
*The Gusenberg brothers, Frank, thirty-six, and Peter, forty, both killers for Moran.
*Reinhart H. Schwimmer, twenty-nine and recently divorced for the second time, a friend of Dion O'Banion and other North Siders, just stopping in for a chat and a cup of hot coffee.
*Albert R Weinshank, thirty-six, owner of a North Side speakeasy and the man Moran has selected to infiltrate the city's garment rackets, a man who looks and dresses like his boss. 

Absent is the boss himself, Moran, the man Capone most wants ... leaving his Parkway Hotel apartment late in the company of gang member Ted Newberry, the gangster sees a police car pull up at the rear of his headquarters and decides to wait until they leave at nearby coffee shop before making an appearance at "the office."  It is a wise decision that saves the mobster's life.

                                              
                                                          Bugs Moran

The police car that has arrived after receiving the erroneous information that Moran is inside, a seven-passenger black Cadillac complete with siren, gong on the running board, and a gun rack on the back of the driver's seat, contains five men ... none of them are police, though two are attired in street cop uniforms.  The two "cops" enter the building, and thinking they are legit officers of the law about to make an arrest, Moran's men immediately comply with an order that is given to put their hands in the air and face one of the structures large brick walls.  Victims in place, the men then signal their companions outside.  Four shooters ready, two Thompson machine gun flanking two shotguns, the killers then open up on Moran's men. 

               
                                                  Police recreation

The first sweep of fire targets the victim's lower backs up to their neck and heads, then the men reload and one machine gunner, squats and puts extra rounds in the heads of the men, his misses hitting the already downed bodies in the feet.  Over 150 bullets fired, the massacre is over in seconds, and to insure a safe exit is made, the "cops" then pretend to arrest the two machine gunners.

         
                                                        The Real Thing
  
                                                        Transfer of bodies

Amazingly, though hit fourteen times, when the real police arrive at the crime scene they find Frank Gusenberg still alive ... but not for very long, too grievously wounded to survive, the mobster passes away three hours later at the nearby Alexian Brothers' Hospital, his last words are in answer to a police query as to who has shot him, "I won't tell."  The only other witness to the crime other than the killers will never tell authorities anything about the murders either ... he can't since he is victim May's frightened and shivering German Shepard, Highball.

                            
                                                   Frank Gusenberg

"Only Capone kills like that!" Moran will state once he discovers what has happened while he was in the coffee shop, and though the world will agree, neither he, nor any of his men are ever found guilty of the crime.  The closest the authorities will ever come to tying anyone to the murders takes place later in the year when police conduct a raid on the hideout of hoodlum Fred "Killer" Burke and discover two Thompson's there, serial numbers 2347 and 7580, the machine guns used in the slaughter ... lacking any other evidence though, Burke is never charged with participating in the massacre and he dies of a massive heart attack while serving time for other crimes never admitting to being a Capone gunman.

                                        
                                                            Burke

The crime of the century at the time the slaughter takes place, only the ghosts of North Clark Street now know who actually pulled the triggers on that cold Valentine's Day morning in 1929 ... and like Highball, they aren't talking.

         
                                                 Chicago - 2/14/1929

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