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Valentine's Day Massacre

Valentine's Day Massacre is the one of the most publicized incident of gang war slaying in the history. The gruesome incident was a fall out of the rivalry between two notorious criminal gangs of Chicago - the South Side Italian gang led by Al ‘Scarface' Capone and the North Side Irish gang led by George 'Bugs' Moran. Seven of Moran's men lost their life in the well planned out massacre that occurred on St Valentine's Day, February 14, 1929. The shoot out was highly publicized by the media and was much talked about in public but nobody was ever booked for the incident.

The cold-blooded Plan

Al Capone and his dreaded gang member Jack 'Machine Gun' McGurn devised the ghastly plan for the Valentine's Day massacre mainly to eliminate arch rival Moran. The idea was to trick Moran and his gang to visit a warehouse on North Clark Street on the pretext of buying some hijacked bootleg whiskey at cheap price. A team of six men led by Fred ‘Killer' Burke would enter the venue in the disguise of police officers and carry the shoot out. Capone and McGurn were to be away from the scene to establish their alibi.

The Massacre on Valentine's Day Morning

As per plan, around 10:30 A.M. on Thursday, February 14, 1929, Burke's men drove up to the garage of the S-M-C Cartage Company in the Lincoln Park neighborhood on the North Side of Chicago, Illinois in a stolen police car. Of the five shooters, two were in the police uniform and three in ordinary street clothes. Capone's men saw seven of Moran's gang members but not Moran himself. Shooters in police uniform ask Moran's gang members to line up facing the wall. Thinking that their captors to be relatively harmless policemen who have come to raid the place, the gangsters followed the instructions. Burke's shooters instantly shot and killed the men with Thompson submachine guns. Of the seven men killed in the massacre six belonged to Moran's gang - James Clark, Frank and Pete Gusenberg, Adam Meyer, Johnny May and Al Weinshank. Seventh man was an optician - Dr. Reinhardt Schwimmer who enjoyed the company of gangsters.

In order to leave without raising suspicion in the eyes of the possible witnesses, the men in street clothes marched out of the garage with their hands raised. Those in police uniform walked behind them, giving the appearance that the police caught the bootleggers and all was well.

Though the massacre was carried out just as planned, it missed the prime target Moran who was per chance late for the meeting. When Moran was about to reach, he saw the police car pulling up near the garage. Moran retraced to avoid being caught up in the raid.

Aftermath of the Massacre

Only Frank ‘Tight Lips' Gusenberg was found alive by the real police when it reached the crime spot. He too succumbed after arriving at Alexian Brothers Hospital. Gusenberg refused to name his attackers making the case more challenging for the investigating team who had to work extremely hard tracing the clues to establish the plan of the criminal. Prime suspect of the massacre, Al Capone and McGurn proved their alibi and shooters were never identified. Thus, in the absence of concrete proof nobody was ever punished for the dreadful Valentine's Day Massacre.


The massacre was widely reported by the media which dubbed it as the "St. Valentine's Day Massacre". Ironically, rather than tightening noose against him, media glare helped Al Capone. The continuous front-page coverage provided him a celebrity status, establishing him as a supreme and dreadful gangster. On the other hand, the massacre resulted in the end of Moran's leadership in the North Side and his gang vanished into obscurity.

The incident, however, brought Capone's activities in the eyes of Federal Government and it began to keep a strict eye on him. Capone was at last convicted and imprisoned for seven years on income tax evasion charges in 1931. Capone died in Florida from Syphilis in 1947.

A year after the massacre, Fred Burke's house was raided by the police. In Burke's possession was found the tommy guns used in the Massacre. Though Burke was never brought to Illinois to be tried for the massacre, he was, sentenced to life for the killing of a policeman in Michigan.

The infamous massacre became the subject of the 1959 movie Some Like it Hot and Roger Corman's famous 1967 film The St. Valentine's Day Massacre.

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