Feb 14 2007

This Day In History: St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

Most people when they think of February 14th, they think of Valentine’s Day, a day of love. However, most people don’t know that in 1929 seven members of George ‘Bugs’ Moran’s gang were lined up against a wall and shot dead by members of Al “Scarface” Capone’s gang as part of a prohibition era conflict. This horrific killing was known as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

St. Valentine's Day Massacre
Capone headed a list of ‚??public enemies‚?Ě corrupting the city compiled in 1930. The list was published by newspapers nationwide and Capone became known as ‚??Public Enemy No. 1‚?Ě.

Pursuing Capone were Treasury agent Eliot Ness and his hand-picked team of incorruptible U.S. Prohibition agents, “The Untouchables”, and internal revenue agent Frank Wilson of the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Internal Revenue. During a routine warehouse raid they discovered in a desk drawer what was clearly a crudely coded set of accounts. Ness then concentrated on pursuing Capone for his failure to pay tax on this substantial illegal income. This story has become a legend and the subject of books and films.

The massacre was a result of a plan devised by Capone’s gang member Jack ‘Machine Gun’ McGurn to eliminate Moran, Capone’s chief criminal enemy. The massacre was planned by McGurn partly in retaliation for an unsuccessful attempt by Frank and his brother Peter Gusenberg to murder him a month earlier while at a telephone booth. Territorial tensions between “Bugs” Moran and Al Capone about who would own the Chicago bootlegging business and make the most money from it also led Capone to accept Jack’s plan for the killings.

McGurn assembled a team of six men led by Fred Burke with the intent of having Moran lured into an ambush. Bugs and his men would be tricked into visiting a warehouse on North Clark Street on the pretext of buying some bargain hijacked bootleg whiskey; Burke’s team would then enter the building disguised as police officers and kill them. The chief architects of the plan, McGurn and Capone, would be well away from the scene.

Before any shooting had begun, Capone had placed lookouts in the apartments across the street from the warehouse. Capone, wishing to keep the lookouts inconspicuous, chose two men from another state to keep watch. Five members of the McGurn gang drove to the warehouse in a stolen police car at around 10:30 a.m., two dressed in police uniforms and three in ordinary street clothes. Moran, supposedly watching the warehouse, spotted the police car and fled. However, one of McGurn’s lookouts confused one of Moran’s men for Moran himself, and gave the signal to McGurn’s men and they approached the warehouse.

al capone, elliot ness, massacre, public enemy no 1, st valentines day, valentines day

About the author

Timothy Haroutunian

Timothy Haroutunian is a ServiceNow Cloud Implementation Specialist at Acorio. ServiceNow is an IT Management solution that allows for a complete view of your IT and physical environment.

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