Valentine’s Day Isn’t All Teddy Bears and Kisses

Machine Guns on Valentine’s Day?

(Photo courtesy of

(Photo courtesy of

Maddy Ivey, Staff Writer

Valentine’s Day is known for its candy hearts and bushels of roses, but did you know that one of the most violent gangster killings of the Prohibition Era also happened to fall on the day of romance?  The infamous massacre (like there is any other kind) was funded by Al Capone, instantly making him a nationally-known figure, for both the public and the federal government.  As many people know, gangsters were a prominent influence on the Prohibition Era.  They opened speakeasies, breweries, brothels, and gambling joints.  Rival gangs began to form, ultimately boiling down to just two. One gang was led by Al Capone and the other by George “Bugs” Morgan.  Not surprisingly, these gangs would make several attempts to seize full control through several attempts on each other’s lives.

One of Al Capone’s associates, Jack McGurn, visited Al Capone to discuss a way to eliminate the Moran gang entirely.  All he needed was Capone’s funding.  McGurn hired an outside gunman (to make sure that survivors would not identify the killers as one of Capone’s men) and used a stolen police car, along with two police uniforms.  He told a local alcohol smuggler to contact Moran the day before Valentine’s Day with a very good deal on some very high quality liquor.  This was a ruse to try to get him out in the open so they could gun him down.  Moran accepted the deal and agreed to meet with the dealer.

At 10:30 am on February 14, 1929, two lookouts reported Moran walking toward the garage.  When the stolen police car reached the garage, four of the gunmen jumped out.  Two of them were dressed in police uniforms.  As they bashed their way inside, the seven men saw the police uniforms and assumed it was a police raid.  They calmly followed all of the instructions given by the gunmen.  They allowed themselves to be faced toward the wall and de-armed.  It was then that the gunmen opened fire.  Six of the seven victims died at the scene, all sustaining at least 15 bullet wounds.  The seventh victim was rushed to the hospital, but died three hours later.  Amazingly, Moran escaped harm, after seeing the police cars outside the garage, he stayed away from the building, unintentionally saving his life.

The massacre made headlines across the country, everybody was shocked at the brutality of the killings.  The police were franticly trying to determine who was behind the crime.  Al Capone had a solid alibi because he had been called in for questioning during the time of the massacre.  McGurn, the man who origninally came up with the plan, had what they now call a blondie alibi.  He had been in a hotel room with his blonde girlfriend from 9 to 3 p.m. that day.

No one was ever tried or convicted of the horrendous murders that came to be known as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, though the police had no evidence against Capone, the public knew he was behind the killings.  The massacre inspired both a movie and a song.  Even if you’ve never seen the movie, or heard the song, chances are you may have heard of this infamous bloody event, that is strangely connected with a day usually associated with love, not murder.