Guest Author - Vance R. Rowe
Today is February 14 or what is more popularly known as Saint Valentine's Day.
Saint Valentine's Day means cards, chocolates, gifts, romantic dinners, and flowers for our significant other. However, on this day, in 1929, Saint Valentine's Day had a different meaning. The infamous Saint Valentine's Day Massacre occurred at the SMC Cartage building on North Clark street in Chicago, and meant a bloody death for seven men in the Bugs Moran gang. No one knows who perpetrated the massacre, although everyone whispered that it was the Capone gang. However, Al Capone was in Florida at the time and had established an air tight alibi.
The Prohibition Era began in 1920 after the 18th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified calling for an end to selling, distributing and the making of alcohol and other intoxicating beverages. This is where the Mafia and other gangsters began to make their money. Chicago mobsters thrived during prohibition because there was no prohibition in Canada and Canadian whiskey made its way to to Detroit and Chicago. At the time, early in the Prohibition Era, a man named Dion O'Banion ruled Chicago's North side gang and Al Capone ruled the South side gang. O'Banion was eventually killed by Capone and this led to the North side gang being fronted by a man named Hymie Weiss, who along with a partner named Vincent Droochi, was friends with George “Bugs” Moran. Over the next couple of years, Weiss and Droochi were both killed and this paved the way for Bugs Moran to take over the North side gang. Moran and Capone were never friends and actually despised each other. They despised each other so much that both men wanted wanted full control of Chicago's bootlegging operation and blood had run in the streets as both gangs violently battled for control.
Johnny Torrio was the leader of the South side gang before it was handed to Al Capone after he was nearly shot to death in 1925 by Bugs Moran, Hymie Weiss and Vincent Droochi. After Capone received the reigns, his men and Moran's men were caught in a vicious and bloody war which culminated at the SMC Cartage company on February 14, 1929. A couple of Al Capone's men rented an apartment across the street from the garage to watch what was going on there. Al Capone, through someone else, got a message to Bugs Moran that there was some whiskey that was hijacked from Detroit's Purple Gang and would be delivered to the garage at the SMC Cartage company on Valentine's Day. Seven of Moran's men were waiting at the garage for the delivery. Bugs Moran was supposed to be there as well but he overslept. When he and his driver got close to the garage, Moran spotted a couple of police officers walking into the Cartage company. Deciding that it was another shakedown by local law enforcement, Bugs Moran decided to go for a cup of coffee instead.
The policemen led the seven men into the garage, lined them up against the wall with their backs to the officers as if they were going to be searched. The men then opened up on the seven men with Thompson sub-machine guns, a couple of shotguns and a revolver. There was almost a hundred bullets that ripped through the bodies of the seven men. Bullet holes ripped into and blood splattered all over the wall in front of the seven men. Witnesses told police that they heard the sound of rapid fire as if from machine guns and saw some policemen leaving the garage and climbing into a car that looked like it could have been a police car.
The men were never caught and the heinous crime was never solved but even though Al Capone was in Florida, it was assumed that he and his men were behind the gangland slaying. It was a day that will live in infamy as the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre.