“I’m not gonna talk – nobody shot me”
The turf war in Chicago — known as the Chicago Beer Wars —between rival gangsters began with the murder of Charles Dean “Dion” O’Banion in November 1924. On 24 January 1925 an attempt was made on the life of Johnny Torrio (search the article) and he retired to New York, allowing Al Capone to take over the South Side gang.
The North Side gang was headed by Bugs Moran (search the article). A meeting at the SMC Cartage Company between the two gangs was arranged by Moran (not Capone, as many versions of the story have it) for St Valentine’s Day 1929.
It is usually assumed that the North Side gang were there to collect a shipment of Old Log Cabin whiskey in a bootlegging deal but this has since been discovered to be untrue and was simply a guess made by a federal officer, who was later sacked.
Four men from the South Side gang — Fred Burke, John Scalise, Albert Anselmi and Joseph Lolordo — arrived in what looked like police cars and ordered the five members of the North Side gang present — Adam Meyer, Al Weinshank, James Clark (Moran’s brother-in-law) and Frank and Pete Gusenberg — to line up against a wall inside.
The men, thinking that these were policemen and they were going to be arrested, complied and stood quietly as the South Side gang members took out machine guns and murdered them all.
The South Side gang then escaped by the simple ruse of two of the men, who were in police uniform, “arresting” the two men in plain clothes and escorting them to the waiting cars. Bugs Moran escaped as he arrived late and, on seeing the “police cars”, fled the scene. One of the Moran gang, Frank Gusenberg, survived. When the police asked who shot him, he replied, “I’m not gonna talk — nobody shot me.”
SMC Cartage Company, 2122 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois, USA
10.30am Thursday 14 February 1929
The massacre consolidated Al Capone’s power base, although he was at the time far away at his Florida home, Bugs Moran lost the Chicago Beer Wars and his close ally, Joe Aiello, was murdered by Capone’s gang on 23 October 1930 at 205 Kolmar Avenue, Chicago. Questioned by reporters Moran broke the code of silence, “Only Capone kills like that” while Capone commented, “The only man who kills like that is Bugs Moran.”
The SMC Cartage Company warehouse was demolished in 1977 and the site is now a car park for a nursing home.