The St. Valentine’s Day massacre was a killing of seven people on St. Valentine’s Day. Al Capone was responsible for these deaths. He sent a team of four men to kill his rival “Bugs” Moran and his men. Two of the four dressed as cops and lined the men up against the wall of a warehouse. Then the other two came in with machine guns and shot and killed all of them. Moran was not there; however, Capone’s men had believed he was. Six of the people killed were Moran’s men, the seventh was a mechanic who happened to be there fixing cars. So what was the result of this horrific gang shooting?
The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre has several results. First, it marked the beginning of the end to Moran’s power. Moran suffered a heavy blow losing his men, however, he still managed to keep control of his territory until the early 1930s. It then passed to Frank Nitti, a Chicago crime boss.
The St. Valentine’s Day massacre also brought the full attention of the federal government to bear on Capone and his criminal activities. This was long in coming, but it was like the straw that broke the camel’s back and caused them to look at him harder and start taking efforts to stop him.
Police eventually charged Capone gunmen Jack McGurn and John Scalise with the massacre. However, they both kind of got off, Scalise was murdered before he went to trial and the charges against McGurn were downgraded to a violation of the Mann Act, because he married his girlfriend, and she was the main witness against him. By marrying her, it became spouse privilege and so her testimony did not work very well. However, ironically, although he beat the charges, he was murdered himself on Valentine’s Day in 1936.
Another effect was that once the government started looking more closely at Capone, in 1931 he was convicted of income tax evasion and went to prison for eleven years. Thus, while the intention of the massacre was to take down Moran, and it eventually succeeded in doing so, it no doubt took down both Moran and Capone. So it backfired and succeeded and left the bloody turf war they had with each other as a stalemate.
Fred Burke, the one believed to have pulled the trigger, got off the easiest; he was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a Michigan cop, but died of heart disease in 1940.
The men who helped him, were all murdered in various ways within five years of the events.
The garage, which stood at 2122 N. Clark Street, was demolished in 1967.
The two submachine guns used in the massacre were seized by police and are currently being held in the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department in Michigan.
So what were the effects of the St. Valentine’s Day massacre? The effects were the contribution to the downfall of both Capone and Moran, the murder of several other gang and mob members, the death of a police officer, the need for some reform in laws, and a higher awareness of mob and gang related activities. So, while the downfall of Moran and Capone are important, the St. Valentine’s Day massacre was an all around terrible occurrence that cost many their lives, and is still remembered today because of its violent and terrible nature.
More posts like this one in History.