Before we get into who is responsible for the St. Valentine’s Day massacre, let’s talk about what it was.
The St. Valentine’s Day massacre was an executioner style shooting of seven people, using sub-machine guns. It occurred on Valentine’s Day in 1929, which is why it is referred to as the St. Valentine’s Day massacre. Besides the date it has no other ties to the saint.
Ok, now that we have cleared up what it was, let’s look at who was responsible. To really understand who is responsible, we need to look at who was involved.
The shooters were identified to be Jack McGurn, Fred Burke, John Scalise, and another man. The victims were identified as James Clark (AKA Albert Kachellek), Frank Gusenberg, Peter Gusenberg, Adam Heyer, John May, Reinhart Schwimmer, and Al Weinshank.
All of these people, with the exception of Reinhart Schwimmer, who was a mechanic, were members of two of Chicago’s gangs, or mob families. One, the North Side Gang, led by “Bugs” Moran, and the other, the mob family of Al Capone.
The people responsible is really a matter of who you are asking. Straight out, Capone is, as he ordered the hit. However, McGurn came up with the plan, so the responsibility could be assigned to him. The plan was instigated as retaliation, so you could say the person responsible is Moran, as he perpetuated the events that led to this. The shooters were John Scalise and Jack McGurn, so they are technically responsible for the deaths. The leader of the team who shot the seven men was Fred Burke, so he could be considered responsible. As you can see, the person responsible could be any number of people.
Let’s take a look at how the whole thing happened, and you can decide for yourself who is responsible, however, the easiest target is Capone, as he is credited with the responsibility for over 500 deaths, so what is seven more?
Al Capone and his men planned to kill “Bugs” Moran, their rival in the bootlegging industry. Moran had rubbed this Italian family the wrong way, and this plan was set in motion in retaliation for an unsuccessful attempt by Frank and his brother Peter Gusenberg (from Moran’s family) to murder Jack McGurn (a high up in Capone’s family) earlier in the year; Moran’s gang’s complicity in the murder of Pasqualino Lolordo as well as Antonio Lombardo, and Bugs Moran trying to take over a Capone-run dog track in the Chicago suburbs.
Capone’s men lured Moran’s men to the S.M.C. Company garage in North Chicago. They had look outs set up, and one of the look outs signaled Fred Burke’s team of four men when they believed Moran was inside. Unfortunately for the plan, the lookout had mistaken one of Moran’s men for Moran himself, and Moran was not actually there.
Two of the four men team dressed as cops and entered the building. They carried shot guns, and ordered the men to line up against the wall. The men inside the building did not resist. The two then let the other two in, who were dressed as civilians, came in with sub-machine guns, and proceeded to kill all seven men. Six were Moran’s men, and one was a mechanic. Once they were all dead, the two dressed as cops escorted the other two out to appease the bystanders. They then got away. It was a while before real police showed up.
So, as you can see, there were a lot of pieces to this, and Capone seems to be the master behind the puppet strings, even if he was in Florida at the time of the actual shooting.