The St. Valentine's Day Massacre
It was then that the gunmen opened fire and
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Hello, I'm Milo for About.com and today we're talking about the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Like many large U.S. cities during the Prohibition era of the 1920s, Chicago was a hotbed of underground crime lords and gangsters. Territory was divided between rival gangs earning lucrative profits from running illegal drinking dens, gambling joints, and brothels. Gang leader Al Capone became the most famous, or indeed infamous, of all, as a result of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, despite no conclusive proof of his involvement nor any resulting police prosecution. As leader of the South Side Italian gang, Capone fought repeatedly against his main rival, leader of the North Side Irish gang, George "Bugs" Moran. The antagonism between the gangs reached its height in the winter of early 1929, when a plan was hatched by Capone's ally Jack "Machine Gun" McGurn. McGurn, embittered by a recent attempt on his life by Moran's gang, wanted to plan a revenge attack that would leave his rivals eradicated once and for all. Capone gave the idea the green light and McGurn set about forming a well-made plan that would leave no trail back to Capone and his gang. The scheme involved hiring gunmen from outside Chicago, with no connection to Capone, as well as two lookouts. Crucially, two police uniforms and a patrol car were stolen in preparation for the killings. In order to lure Moran into danger, McGurn organised for an alcohol bootlegger to make Moran a deal he couldn't refuse on a consignment of fine whiskey. As per the plan, Moran agreed and arranged to meet the bootlegger the following morning at a garage building behind his gang's headquarters. On the morning of February 14th, with the trap successfully set, the plan swung into action. As Moran's associates arrived at the garage, McGurn's two lookouts gave the signal for the gunmen to drive to the garage in the police car. However, the lookouts had unknowingly mistaken another gang member for Moran, who actually arrived crucially just after the gunmen pulled up. Seeing the police car, Moran safely left the scene. Moran's seven associates were not so lucky. When they saw the gunmen wearing police uniforms, they thought they had been caught in a routine police raid. Thus, when the gunmen ordered them to surrender their weapons and line up against the wall, they duly cooperated. It was then that the gunmen opened fire and riddled them with bullets. News of the brutal killings stunned America, and interestingly, for weeks, many people were convinced that the police themselves were involved, because of the police car and uniforms that were used. Eventually it became clear to everyone that Capone had been behind the massacre. However, since Capone was in Miami on the day of the shootings and there was never sufficient evidence found to tie him to the shooters, he remained essentially untouchable. However, despite not being brought to account for the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, Capone's involvement still proved his downfall. The high-profile shooting served to make Capone a household name across the US, and brought him to the attention of the Federal authorities, who later successfully imprisoned Capone on charges of tax evasion in 1931. For more excellent, insightful, and interesting information on the 20th century, check us out at About.com.