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THE MASSACRE

THE MASSACRE

The crime that became known as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre occurred on the morning of February 14, 1929, inside a garage on the north side of Chicago. Seven members of Bugs Moran’s gang were lined up against a wall and shot down with Tommy guns. Two of their assailants were wearing police uniforms.

The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre occurred about 10:30 a.m. on February 14, 1929, inside the S.M.C. Cartage Company garage at 2122 North Clark Street on the north side of Chicago.

Seven men associated with George “Bugs” Moran’s bootlegging operation were waiting inside the garage, presumably for a meeting to buy a hijacked shipment of Canadian whiskey at a good price.

But four men, two wearing police uniforms, pulled up in a police car, entered the garage and ordered Moran’s men to line up shoulder to shoulder against a wall of the garage. They did not put up a fight because they believed they were being subjected to a police raid.

Chicago investigators re-enact the Massacre. Courtesy of John Binder Collection

The men opened fire with two Thompson submachine guns and a shotgun. All seven were shot dead. A German shepherd dog named Highball, tied to a car bumper in the garage, was not killed.

Victims of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre
St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in a garage on Chicago’s North Side
Victims of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in a garage on Chicago’s North Side. Courtesy of John Binder Collection

The killers undoubtedly had hoped to kill Moran himself, but he was not among the seven victims. Moran was supposed to be there, but was late for the meeting, saw the police car and walked on by along with two associates. If they had been on time for the meeting, one can assume that 10 men would have perished in the Massacre.

Five of the seven victims were bona fide gangsters. Peter Gusenberg, 41, and Frank Gusenberg, 37, were top enforcers for the Moran gang, as was Albert Kachellek, 42. Adam Heyer, 40, was Moran’s business manager, and Albert Weinshenk, 36, managed various businesses for Moran. Read more about the cast of characters →

Reinhardt Schwimmer, 29, was an optician who enjoyed hanging out with hoodlums. John May, 35, was an auto mechanic who did repair work for Moran.

Frank Gusenberg, who had 22 bullet wounds, did not die immediately. He was rushed to the hospital, where police questioned him. In classic gangster fashion, he refused to say much. One account has him saying that “police” were responsible for the shooting, which is consistent with the fact that two of the assailants wore police uniforms. Gusenberg died three hours after the shooting.

Massacre 7 of Moran Gang Newspaper

The Public Outcry

The Massacre was reported across the country, and it horrified an American public that had previously viewed gangsters such as Al Capone as heroic figures...

The Public Outcry - The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Feb. 14th, 1929.
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