By David Amoruso for Gangsters Inc.
On Valentine’s Day most people are thinking about their loved ones. Husbands browse the stores in search for that one gift to tell the wife how much they love her, while youngsters arrange to meet up at the park for a romantic walk and a kiss. And then there’s Chicago Mafia boss Al Capone.
Though Capone undoubtedly arranged for something romantic for his wife or one of his mistresses, his main business of that day was giving the gift of death to his arch rival George “Bugs” Moran.
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The two mob bosses had been duking it out since 1926 when Moran became the leader of the North Side Gang after Capone had his predecessor “Hymie” Weiss killed. The Chicago Mafia had been hunting for members of the North Side Gang after the gang’s leader had crossed their boss Johnny Torrio. And they had a lot of success too! But each time the gang replaced its dead leader with a new one who was just as ferocious in keeping the war going.
Capone had had enough. If he wanted to end the war he had to take out not just Moran but several of his key confidants as well. On February 14, 1929, St. Valentine’s Day, he found the opportunity he was waiting for.
Throughout the war between the Mafia and the North Side Gang, Moran had acquired a taste for Capone’s booze. He would send out his troops to hijack trucks filled with that illicit product or steal it in other ways. The Capone gang knew what its enemy wanted. They had their bait.
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Capone delegated the task of murdering Moran to “Machine Gun” Jack McGurn, real name Vincenzo Gibaldi, while he himself arranged for his alibi by going to Florida. Using a front man, McGurn offered Moran a load of stolen Capone booze. The man was told he would need to deliver a sample at a garage at 2122 North Clark Street so the gang could check the quality.
As Capone’s men were stationed near the garage they kept an eye out on who arrived. After six men had entered the garage there was still no sign of Moran. Perhaps it was impatience, perhaps it was the adrenaline, whatever it was when a seventh man went into the garage the lookouts were certain “Bugs” Moran had joined the group. They were wrong. But by that point they had already passed on the message and the hit was on.
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With seven members of one of Chicago’s most violent gangs in one place Capone’s men took no chances. They had disguised a black rental car as a police car by placing a siren on top and four hit men were dressed as officers of the law. They were counting on their trustworthy uniforms to give them the edge against a bunch of trigger-happy stone cold killers.
When they made their entrance Moran’s men must’ve been perplexed. Cops were usually paid off and if they weren’t then who snitched on this transaction? Before they could point any fingers however, Capone’s men lined them up and completely obliterated them with bullets. “Some seventy rounds were fired with machine guns, and once the victims were motionless, some of them received pointblank shotgun blasts to their faces. Each victim received dozens of wounds, methodically spread throughout each body. The carnage was so brutal that some copses were said to have been nearly severed at the waist,” author Gus Russo wrote in The Outfit.
After the bloody hit, Moran went into hiding and his gang slowly disappeared from the scene. He later told police, “Only the Capone gang kills like that.”
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