Chicago gang kills 7: Al Capone & the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre (1929)

reenactment of St Valentine's Day massacre 1929 for jurors

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Removing dead after the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre (1929)

From The Daily Times (New Philadelphia, Ohio) February 15, 1929

Entering a garage said to have been operated by a rival faction, Chicago beer racketeers lined eight men against a wall and shot them down in cold blood.

Seven were killed instantly, and an eighth was seriously wounded.

One of the dead was James Clark, brother-in-law of George (Bugs) Moran, who is known as an associate of Al Capone, Chicago beer baron.

This picture, taken by a cameraman for The Daily Times and NEA Service, shows police removing the bodies through a rear door of the garage.

The massacre by the “firing squad” marked a new method in Chicago’s long gang warfare in which 172 men have been shot to death in the past few years.

Removing dead after the 1929 Saint Valentine's Day Massacre

Where seven members of Moran gang were lined up against wall and killed by rivals (1929)

Where seven members of Moran gang were lined up against wall and killed by rivals (1929)

How the victims of the gangland massacre fell

Photodiagram showing how the bodies of the slain men lay in front of the north wall, against which they had been lined up before machine guns and shotgun were turned loose.

How the victims fell - Saint Valentine's Day Massacre newspaper from 2-15-1929

Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre: Chicago gang kills six lined against wall

Horrible machine gun revenge meted out in beer war

Reenactment of St Valentine's Day massacre 1929 for jurors
Reenactment of St Valentine’s Day massacre 1929 for jurors
St Valentine’s Day Massacre: Gang murders six

Assassins escape in cars, arrest of every hoodlum ordered – Frank Gusenberg, seventh victim of the terrible machine gun battle here, died this afternoon of six bullet wounds, refusing to talk to the last in true gangland code.

Chicago. Feb. 14 – Two auto loads of gangsters shortly before noon today entered a North Side garage, lined eight men against a wall, and shot six of them to death. The remaining two were wounded, perhaps fatally.

The gangsters, armed with every fiendish device of gang warfare. crashed through heavy oaken doors, created an inferno of machine gun, shotgun and revolver fire. They then fled in the two cars which they had left parked nearby.

1929 Saint Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago newspaper photo 2-15 (5)
Carrying the bodies of slain gangsters from the scene of massacre
Used as blind

The garage where the shooting occurred is an unimposing structure in the 2200 block on North Clark street or about 19 blocks due north of the Chicago loop.

The lower half of the windows in the front of the building had been painted so that passersby could not see inside. A firm name, the S. M. C. Cartage Co., is believed to have been a blind for the operations of a gang of liquor runners.

1929 Saint Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago newspaper photo 2-15 (8)
Officials visit scene of mafia massacre and announce their plans

A firm name, the S. M. C. Cartage Co., is believed to have been a blind for the operations of a gang of liquor runners.

The murders took place so suddenly that before a police alarm could be given. the attackers leaped into their machines and sped away. leaving a tangled mass of bullet-riddled bodies, confusion and chaos in their wake.

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Police Capt. William Schoemaker machine guns St Valentine's Day Massacre
Police Capt. William Schoemaker machine guns St Valentine’s Day Massacre
Implements of death

Strewn among the bodies were the implements of death — machine guns, sawed-off shotguns, revolvers and dynamite bombs, which had not exploded.

One of the dead was said to have been identified as Pete Gusenberg, a lieutenant of George (Bugs) Moran, North Side beer rival of the famous Aiello gang. Pete’s brother, Frank, was wounded.

1929 Saint Valentine's Day Massacre victims
Members and associates of Moran gang who were killed in garage. Left to right, upper row: Peter Gusenberg, former convict, and one of principal lieutenants of Moran; Frank Gusenberg, brother of Peter, who was left alive by assassins, but died of wounds; James Clark, brother-in-law of Moran. Lower row: Albert Weinshank, a recent recruit of the gang; Adam Heyer, who rented the garage in which he and his companions were slain; John May, auto mechanic, who is said by police to have been a former safe blower.

Two others of the dead were later identified as Alfred Weinshenk and Arthur “Bud” Hayes.

Another of the dead was identified a James Clark, another well-known gangster, once lieutenant to the notorious Dion O’Banion, former gangster chieftain, killed several years ago in his florist shop on the North Side.

The raid was one of the most daring in the long history or Chicago gang feuds. The two carloads of raiders drew up in front of the garage shortly before noon. leaped out and entered. Then came the roar of sawed-off shotguns. Persons in the neighborhood said they thought there had been an explosion in the building.

A few minutes later, half a dozen or more gangsters raced out of the garage, took their places in the two automobiles and speeded away.

The victims were said to have been treated in the usual gang manner, shot down without a chance to defend themselves.

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Every available squad car at the detective headquarters was pressed into action and raced north through the loop with screaming sirens. The interior of the warehouse, used as a liquor headquarters and meeting place of the North Side gang, was wrecked as if a tornado had struck it.

Policemen seen
Al 'Scarface' Capone in control of gangland (1929)
Al ‘Scarface’ Capone in control of gangland (1929)

Just who the deadly assassins today were, police could only conjecture. Some believed it was the dormant South Side “Scarface Al” Capone gang come to life. Others said that the West Side “mob” had begun to encroach upon Moran’s territory. The havoc of the machine guns today was the worst in the history of Chicago gang warfare.

Witnesses told detectives they saw two uniformed policemen and two civilians rush out of the warehouse with their hands raised just after the shooting. Policemen and the civilians jumped into a car and the machine sped away, witnesses said.

Bodies penetrated

Police said they could not tell by examining the bodies whether the men had faced the raiders or the wall when the massacre took place. That was because most of the shotgun slugs tore clear through the bodies, leaving similar wounds on both sides.

Hayes, Clark and Weinshaks went to their deaths dressed as carefully as the most prosperous of racketeers. Each wore a wristwatch. Only the unidentified mechanic was in working clothes.

At the rear of the room in which the murders occurred was a large space crowded with trucks and automobiles. In one of the trucks, police found a dismantled still, strengthening their belief that the wholesale shooting was a flare-up in the beer war.

Scene of massacre in Chicago gang feud (1929)

Was a Capone aid

“Bugs” Moran, whose late brother-in-law owned the garage and the cartage company, is known as an associate of “Scarface” Al Capone, the Chicago beer lord. “Bugs” is said to be second successor to the alcohol domain on the North Side once ruled by O’Banion.

Important representatives of Chicago officialdom flocked to the North Clark street address as soon as news of the assassinations spread about the city. The police commissioner was there as was the chief of detectives of the Chicago crime commission.

ALSO SEE: How gangster ‘Scarface’ Al Capone was caught, served hard time at Alcatraz, and lived after prison

Police Commissioner William Russell issued a statement describing the outrage as “the last straw.”

“The gangsters have declared war openly and boldly, and the police department has accepted the challenge,” Russel said. “I am issuing orders for the arrest of every gangster hoodlum and racketeer in the city.”

Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre timeline diagram 1929)

From the Chicago Tribune (Illinois) February 15, 1929

The diagram shows the generally accepted version of the killing of the seven friends and followers of George “Bugs” Moran.

Eyewitnesses to the arrival and escape of the killers agree that there were four in the party, two wearing police uniforms. The killers parked their car on the west side of Clark street just north of the entrance to the SMC Cartage company’s garage, at 2122 North Clark street, the scene of the crime.

1929 Saint Valentine's Day Massacre timeline diagram

The men in policemen’s uniforms entered first, followed by the two others. When they left, after slaughtering their seven victims, the supposed policemen brought up the rear.

The crime as reconstructed by the police follows: Supposing the raiders to be policemen, the Moran gangsters submitted to being disarmed and obeyed orders to line up facing the north wall of the garage, with their hands up.

Then, it is believed. the raiders opened up with machine gun and pistol. This version of the tragedy is borne out by the position of the bodies when found, as four of them fell back face upwards, a fifth lay against the wall, and the sixth was crumpled over a chair.

The stream of fire from the machine gun evidently was from east to west, as the last victim, to the rear, managed to stagger toward the alley entrance of the garage before he collapsed over some chairs, on which he and his companions had been sitting when cornered by the raiders.

Two women who saw assassins leave garage after massacre

Mrs Jeannette Landesman and Mrs Joe Morin – said two slayers wore police uniforms

1929 Saint Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago newspaper photo 2-15 (7)

Dog howls dismally after seeing the slaughter

1929 Saint Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago newspaper photo 2-15 (6)

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