The St. Valentine's Day Massacre

Written by: 
Emmalee Smith

Valentine’s Day is not always a day of romance, chocolates, and flowers, but according to, on Feb. 14, 1929, seven members of a gang in Chicago were gunned down while lined up facing a wall. Police officers from Chicago’s 36th District found eyewitnesses who said men entered a garage dressed as police officers and gunned down the victims. About 70 rounds of ammunition were fired.

One gang member, Frank Gusenberg was barely alive when police arrived at the scene and although he was repeatedly asked, he would not give up what had happened. Al Capone and his gang were immediately suspected of the crime but claimed to have been at his home in Florida at the exact time of the shootings and no one was ever prosecuted or brought to court in suspicion of the massacre.

However, mafioso ‘Scarface’ Al Capone’s gang is known for the massacre. The massacred gang leader, Irish gangster George “Bugs” Moran, had an alcohol bootlegging operation in the North side of Chicago and was a known rival of Capone’s.

In Chicago during the 1920s, Capone had a gambling, prostitution, bootlegging (the illegal making and selling of alcohol), and speakeasies (illegal drinking sites) operations. These businesses were especially profitable during the prohibition era when alchol was illegal from 1920 to 1933 and Capone made an estimated $60 million a year.

Capone is one of the most infamous gangsters in American history. Although Capone was involved in many violent acts including 64 murders in 1929, the most well-known of these is the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

However not long after the massacre, Capone was sent to court for contempt charges, then to prison in May of the same year for carrying an illegal weapon. He was jailed for nine months. A year later, he was convicted for contempt charges and then again for tax evasion where he was sentenced to 11 years in jail. According to PBS, during his stay, he became mentally unwell due to syphilis attacking his brain and was released three years early. He died at the age of 48 from heart failure.

According to AMC, the movie “Scarface” featured a mobster played by Al Pacino who was based off of the real-life Mafioso ‘Scarface’ Al Capone. The film, which is often recognized by the quote, “Say hello to my little friend,” a large gun Pacino uses, is loosely-based off of the 1929 novel with the same title.

Date Published: 
Monday, February 12, 2018
Last Edited: 
Monday, February 12, 2018