What Was the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre?

Lincoln Park, on the north end of Chicago, Ilinois, where the Saint Valentine's Day massacre occurred.
Lincoln Park, on the north end of Chicago, Ilinois, where the Saint Valentine's Day massacre occurred.

The Saint Valentine’s Day massacre of February 14, 1929, occurred in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. During the prohibition era, five members of the North Side Irish gang of Chicago and two associates were murdered by the Al Capone gang and other criminal groups. The conflict was an attempt to take control of the organized crime in Chicago.

The Masterminds Behind The Massacre

Al Capone organized the massacre to eliminate George Moran. Moran had long established his North Side Gang territory. Five years earlier, four gunmen had shot and killed Dion O’banion, the first commander of the North Side Gang, in his North State Street flower shop. Afterward, Al Capone organization continued to kill each successive leader. The plan included luring Bugs Moran into an S.M.C Cartage warehouse. Capone's intent was to kill him and some of his lieutenants. Word has it that a cut-rate whiskey shipment was used to lure the North Side gang to the garage. Perhaps the allure was a sweeter deal because that load was supplied by an associate of Capone from Detroit called the Purple Gang. Allegedly, the Gusenberg brothers would drive to Detroit two empty pickups to retrieve the stolen Canadian whiskey.

The Massacre

By 10 o’clock, most of the North Siders were at the warehouse. Moran was running late since he had left his apartment at Parkway Hotel. As Bugs and Ted Newberry approached from the rear of the garage, they saw a police car approaching the building. The only option was dodging into a coffee shop. They met Henry Gusenberg and warned him. Willie Marks, a North Sider spotted the police car and ducked into a doorway, jotting down the car’s license plate. Lucky for Moran, Albert Weinshank resembled him. More so, his dress code (same colored overcoats and hats) gave him the Moran appearance. Soon after his arrival, a Cadillac sedan pulled to a stop outside the warehouse. Two men in police uniform emerged and entered the warehouse. The other two in suits, ties, hats, and overcoats rounded the garage from the rear where they found the North Side gang and two collaborators; John May and Schwimmer. The “fake officers” ordered the men against the wall then signaled the men in suit. The latter opened a Thompson sub-machine gunfire, spraying their victims back and forth, and continuing the assault long after the victims hit the floor. Witnesses claim the “cops” escorted the civilians in suits at gunpoint after the shooting.When the Chicago police arrived, Frank Gusenberg, was still alive but with fourteen bullet wounds. At the hospital, the doctors stabilized Frank for a few hours. The police tried to question him on his shooter, but he retorted to: “No one shot me.” Frank died three hours later. According to the coroner’s report, Clark’s and May’s heads were obliterated with two short guns.

The Victims Of The Massacre

Albert Kachellek (James Clark) was Bugs second in command and brother in law. The others were Adam Heyer who was the business manager and bookkeeper and Albert Weinshank, a cleaner (cleaned and dyed operations for Moran). Two collaborators also met the same fate. These were Reinhardt H. Schwimmer, the gang’s associate and gambler, and John May, the group’s occasional mechanic.

Factors Contributing To the Massacre

Word has it that earlier on in that year, Frank Gusenberg, had made a failed murder attempt to Jack McGurn, but he failed. The North gang had also taken part in the assassination of Antonio Lombardo alias “The Scourge” and Pasqualino Lolordo (Patsy). The two had headed the Unione Siciliana, a local mafia with close ties to Al Capone. The animosity was because Capone and Moran had each wanted to become the boss of the high-income Chicago bootlegging trade. Bugs (Moran) had taken over some of Capone enterprises including several saloons and a dog track. By the time the police and FBI finished the investigation with meaningful results in 1935, most of the killers and masterminds of that occult were dead. However, they concluded that Capone ordered the massacre. Nevertheless, the real killers remain a mystery even though the crime historians think that the American Boys- Capone high-risk activity group was the perpetrators.


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