Most people get chocolates or flowers or even gift cards for Valentine’s Day.
On February 14, 1929, seven men got bullets. Lots of them, delivered by Tommy Guns. This is Chicago’s contribution to the day of love.
Alphonse Gaberiel Capone was fingered as the most likely suspect, but the original Scareface was in Florida at the time. So he says.
The seven men were either members of, or associated with, the north-side “Bugs” Moran gang. Big Al was the scion of the south-side gang, happily dealing in illegal booze, working women and shady games of chance. In other words, he was the respectable business man of the time, so he also said. Often.
Nobody was ever arrested and convicted for the carnage at the cartage garage, but here is how it went down.
A woman eye-witness, who lived in an apartment across the street from the garage at 2122 North Clark, said she saw two uniform police men exit the building with several plain clothed men, hands up, in front of them. That would explain all the shooting: the police took down some gangsters.
Well, not really.
When the real police arrived they found six dead men in a pool of blood, and one clinging to life. The one mug who lived, Frank Gusenberg, was rushed to the hospital and when he finally revived, he lifted his head and choked out that he “Ain’t going to talk,” then died right on cue. Pure Hollywood, only it was real.
To this day, it is an unsolved mystery and probably the most popular cold case murder in Chicago annuls of cold cases.
Capone skated on this one, but it was said that when it came to taking out Moran, he would have to kill a bunch of people. Capone allowed that this would be okay. He’d send flowers. Hint, hint: he targeted Moran on St. Valentine’s Day? A clue!
Talk about showing the love.
Ironically, “Bugs” Moran was not present and was saved from becoming Irish Swiss Cheese. He went on to further bootlegging success on the north side until Prohibition was repealed. Bugs died a pauper in 1957, right before he was scheduled to do some hard time at Leavenworth Prison.
Capone gets all the press, but without Moran it would have been a bit dull.
Bugs left us with his own tradition. He gained lasting fame for driving past an enemy gang’s hideout and spraying it with bullets from his Tommy Guns. Bug’s invented the “drive-by shooting”.
Wouldn’t it be sweet if this crime could be pinned on somebody?