Happy St. Valentine's Day Massacre, Folks

Chicago during Prohibition was as lawless and violent as the Wild West.

The underworld was fighting its own civil war between north and south. Only the North Siders were the Irish-Americans represented by Bugs Moran. Fighting them were the South Siders, the Italian syndicate led by Al Capone. So to speak.

Johnny Torrio, the sly fox....

The war reached its climax on February 14, 1929, St. Valentine’s Day, when a devious trap was set for Moran.





The setup for one of the most brutal mass murders in the history of organized crime in America was actually a seemingly simple business transaction -- the sale of "stolen" Capone hooch.

A siren was placed on top of a black-colored rental car to help it resemble a police wagon. Four gunmen dressed in police officer garb got in and headed to meet with members of the Moran gang to sell the booze.

The designated meeting place was a garage at 2122 North Clark Street; the appointment was set for 11 am.

Once inside that garage, the phony cops didn't proceed to unload bottles of booze from the wagon; instead, they whipped out their Chicago Typewriters. The machine guns opened up in careful sweeps that methodically blasted the men nearly to pieces (some bodies were found nearly severed at the midsection).

When all the North Siders were on the ground dead or dying, the hoods then delivered shotgun blasts to the faces of some of the men at point-blank range.

Minutes after, the bodies lay in a large, growing puddle of blood. Six were dead; one somehow continued to breathe. The last to die, Frank Gusenberg, lasted for around two hours.

Gusenberg was able to communicate with police too. Apparently, he spoke at least two sentences to police. He could've told them what had happened, who he believed was behind the brutal slaughter -- which was something out of the WWI trenches that riddled Europe.

Only he didn't tell them anything like that. His last words reportedly were: “Nobody shot me. I ain’t no copper.” 

To this day, the St. Valentine's Day Massacre is a cold case.


Capturing the holiday spirit: We doctored these slightly to avoid
offending any more sensitive readers.

The target -- the man who caused Capone to dispatch all that firepower to a North Side garage -- was not one of the victims.

Bugs Moran wasn't there when those Typewriters starting tapping their immortal story.

"Only the Capone gang kills like that," Moran said before hiding for his life.

As for Capone, he was in Miami when the massacre was carried out.

Although he was never charged with the crime, many crime historians believe Capone was indeed behind the dirty, dirty deed. Gus Russo, in The Outfit, wrote that "there was little doubt that (Capone) had ordered the slaughter of his sworn enemies. There was simply no one else so vicious and with so much to gain by hitting the North Siders. Capone, of course, proclaimed his innocence, at one point mocking Moran’s own theory when he chided, “The only man who kills like that is Bugs Moran."


Johnny Torrio almost met his maker four years prior to the bloody shooting of '29.

Torrio returned to New York for Brooklyn's relative tranquility having passed on the reins to protégé Capone, who rose to power and cunningly cultivated the public's adoration while building "the Outfit" into a powerful, money-making machine. (Torrio had no intentions of retiring, however, that's all B.S. Rather, he'd made a strategic decision to follow the power, which in his view was clearly in New York City, where men with surnames like Luciano, Lucchese, Gambino, Genovese, Costello and Adonis (among others) were poised to make big changes.)

Then Valentine's Day, 1929, happened...

Stark black-and-white newspaper photos did the seemingly impossible: they altered perceptions.

Capone's downfall began just as the man himself had finally consolidated his control of the North Side. And it was largely because of Jun Fujita....

Who is Jun Fujita?

He is one of the first Asian-American photojournalists. As per his profession, he often shot photos of Al Capone.

In 1929, he was the first to arrive at the scene of the St Valentine's Day Massacre. He was the first to start snapping away at the carnage on the garage floor.

The Chicago Trib referred to Fujita as "the man who shot Al Capone."





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