On February 14, 1929, members of Al “Scarface” Capone’s South Side Italian gang ambushed seven members of Irish gangster George “Bugs” Moran’s North Side gang in a Chicago garage and executed them, literally decimating their bodies with a hail of rounds from several Thompson sub-machine guns. It was a Valentine’s Day never to be forgotten and was quickly dubbed the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Here are some interesting factoids you may not know about that event.
1. Two of the killers were disguised as policemen while the rest wore business attire. After the shootings, the phony coppers emerged from the garage pretending to escort the others at gunpoint, making their getaway and creating persistent rumors that it was the police who had executed the mobsters.
2. Although Bugs Moran was the intended target of the attack, he actually escaped unharmed. He and one of his lieutenants arrived at the garage late for the scheduled meeting, and spotted the phony policemen getting out of a car. Not wanting to tangle with law enforcement, they ducked into a nearby coffee shop and missed the whole thing. Capone’s lookouts probably mistook one of Moran’s lieutenants for the mob boss himself, as he was wearing the same color overcoat and hat.
3. Al Capone claimed to have been at his home in Florida at the time of the massacre. Who knew Scarface was a snowbird!
4. The only two survivors were gang member Frank Gusenberg, who died at the hospital three hours later after telling police “nobody shot me,” and a German shepherd named Highball, who was miraculously unscathed, and he wouldn’t talk either.
5. Despite an exhaustive investigation, no one was ever convicted of the murders.
6. Seven men were killed by 70 rounds of ammunition on that February the 14th. Lucky number seven, anyone?
7. Although Al Capone and his men were never arrested for the massacre, they didn’t get away scot free. Alarmed by an increase in mob-related violent crime that cumulated in 64 related murders that same year, John Q Public put increasing pressure on law enforcement to put an end to the violence. Labeled “Public Enemy No. 1,” Capone soon became the target of multiple federal investigations, which ultimately landed him in the slammer.
8. Capone served a considerable portion of his 11-year sentence in Alcatraz, and after his release in 1939 he remained an invalid recluse at his Florida home until passing away eight years later.
9. The most notorious crime boss of his time, who ruthlessly eliminated his rivals in the illegal trades of bootlegging, gambling and prostitution, was brought down not by the FBI but by the IRS, for failing to pay his income taxes.
10. All but 100 of the bricks from the garage wall against which the gangsters were lined up and executed are now on display at the Mob Museum in Las Vegas, a step up from their previous engagement in a Nightclub men’s room in Vancouver. The other 100 bricks were sold to gangster buffs over the Internet.
Remember — nothing screams Valentine’s Day like murder and mayhem. Come join us at Cutting Edge this Friday the 13th of February and Saturday, the 14th for a Valentine’s Day Fright to Remember!