Valentines Day Massacre
St Valentines Day Massacre is a name given to one of the most publicized and talked about shoot out event that was a result of rivalry of two powerful criminal gangs of Chicago. The incident happened on February 14, 1929 at Lincoln Park neighborhood on the North Side of Chicago, Illinois. The cold-blooded shoot out resulted in the death of seven people. Much has been written about the Valentines Day Massacre but killers were never booked. The massacre was also the subject of the 1959 movie Some Like it Hot and Roger Corman's 1967 film The St. Valentine's Day Massacre.
Gang Rivalry - Capone Vs Moran
Valentine Day Massacre was a result of the arch rivalry between the mighty South Side Italian gang led by Al Scarface Capone and the North Side Irish gang led by George 'Bugs' Moran. A top member of Al Capones dreaded gang, Jack 'Machine Gun' McGurn originally devised the plan for massacre. The motive was to eliminate Moran - Capones chief enemy. But it is said McGurn wanted to avenge the unsuccessful attack on his life made by Morans gang member Frank and Peter Gusenberg a month earlier.
McGurn and Capone designed the plan of the massacre to detail and perfection. A team of six men led by Fred Killer Burke was to execute the massacre. The idea was to lure Moran and his gang to an ambush. Morans gang was to be tricked to visiting a warehouse on North Clark Street on the pretext of buying some hijacked bootleg whiskey at cheap price. The delivery was to be made at 10:30 A.M. on Thursday, February 14. Burke's team would then enter the venue in the guise of police officers and kill them on the spot. The chief suspects of the operation, McGurn and Capone would be well away from the scene to establish their alibi.
Around 10:30 on the St Valentines Day morning, five men of the Burke team drove up to the garage of the S-M-C Cartage Company in the Lincoln Park neighborhood on the North Side of Chicago, Illinois in a stolen police car. Of the five, two were dressed in police uniforms and three in ordinary street clothes. Capones gang member found seven of Morans gang member but not Moran himself. Morans gang members were told to line up facing the back wall. Believing their captors to be relatively harmless policemen who had come to raid the place, the gang members followed the instruction. Burkes men instantly shot and killed the men with a tommy gun.
In order to leave without raising an iota of suspicion, the men in plain clothes marched out of the garage with their hands raised in front of the two men in police uniform. The scene gave the appearance that all was well and policemen had caught the bootleggers.
Of the seven men killed in the massacre six belonged to Morans gang - James Clark, Frank and Pete Gusenberg, Adam Meyer, Johnny May and Al Weinshank. Seventh man was an optician - Dr. Reinhardt Schwimmer who enjoyed associating with the gang.
How the Plan Failed
The well-devised plan of McGurn was a failure as Moran escaped the killing. It so happened that Moran became late for the meeting. And when he saw the policemen car pulling up just as he neared the garage, he took off to avoid being caught up in the raid.
When the real police arrived they found they found that only Frank Tight Lips Gusenberg was still alive. When he was questioned who shot him, Gusenberg replied, "Nobody shot me." Gusenberg died shortly without naming his killers. This made the case more difficult for the investigating team who had to try very hard tracing the clues to establish the plan of the criminal. Prime suspect of the Valentine's Day Massacre was of course Al Capone who though claimed to be in Florida at the time of the murder. McGurn too proved his alibi. In the absence of proof investigating team failed to arrest Al Capone. Gunmen who executed the killing were never identified. Nobody therefore could be punished for the notorious Valentines Day Massacre.
The deadly massacre marked the end of Morans leadership in the North Side and his gang vanished into obscurity. On the other hand unprecedented publicity of Valentines Day Massacre helped Al Capone. His supremacy was established and he came to be known and dreaded by all. However, the incident made Federal Government pay full attention to the criminal activities of Capone. He was convicted and imprisoned for seven years on income tax evasion charges in 1931. Capone died in Florida from Syphilis in 1947.
About a year after the massacre, the police raided the home of Fred Burke - the professional killer who at times had been hired by Capone. Police found in his possession the tommy guns used in the Massacre. Burke was never brought to Illinois to be tried for the massacre though. He was, instead, convicted for the killing of a policeman in Michigan and sentenced to life.
The infamous garage, which stood at 2122 N. Clark Street, was demolished in 1967. The site is now a landscaped parking lot for a nursing home. The wall was dismantled brick by brick, sold and shipped to George Patey, a Canadian businessman. Patey used the bricks in the men's restroom of a bar with a Roaring '20s theme. After the bar closed, Patey began trying to sell the bricks as souvenirs.