Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Holy Name Cathedral Gangster Massacre, Chicago 1926
Dion O’Banion, Hymie Weiss and “Bugs” Moran were the successive leaders of the second most powerful criminal organization in Chicago during the roaring 20’s. They were the best of friends from childhood on entering and growing together a world of crime and violence. Along with James Drucci another boyhood pal they were the nucleus of the north side gang that for five years posed the only serious challenge to Al Capone.
Their decision to break the lucrative truce that had marked the first four years of prohibition touched off the five year “beer war” that was capped off on Valentine’s Day 1929. One by one these friends went down in a hail of gunfire. Except for Bugs Moran who escaped his fate on that bloody holiday. In a previous clip from our series “Chicago Crime Now and Then” we covered the 1924 hit on Dion O’Banion in his north Clark street florist shop located across the street from Holy Name Cathedral.
Following the assassination of O’Banion new head of the north side gang Hymie Weiss launched a two front counter attack. First he worked to eliminate the Genna’s, Taylor St. bootleggers responsible for the murder. He also unleashed a series of attempts to take out Al Capone. There were ambushes; his drivers were kidnapped tortured and killed. They even tried to poison him. Capone did not just absorb these blows he fought back. He also tried negotiations but the price the north spiders wanted was too high.
So when the Weiss launched his ten car assault on the Hawthorne Hotel it was time for him to go. Within days of that spectacular attack Capone started setting up an ambush. His agents were dispatched to rent street facing rooms in the buildings that overlooked Superior and State.
On October 11, 1926 Hymie Weiss was knee deep in a plot with south side hoodlum Joe Saltis to fix a trial that could frame Al Capone for murder. He had spent most of the day watching the trial and securing a list of the jurors’ names. By 3:00 he had made the short drive from the Criminal Court Building to his office at Schofield’s. Weiss parked his car on Superior just east of State while his private investigator Ben Jacobs parked on State just south of Superior.
Weiss his driver, bodyguard and lawyer had almost crossed State when all hell broke loose. A machine gunner followed by a shotgun on the second floor opened up on the group. Weiss and guard Patrick Murray went down fatally wounded. Lawyer William O’Brien hit several times found refuge in a stairwell. Weiss’s driver Sam Peller and Jacobs retreated back across State under another withering volley of tommy gun fire, that left 35 holes in the Cathedral, before finding safety behind the building.
The final toll was two dead three wounded with no arrests. Hymie Weiss was dead before he was thirty.
For more on Henry Earl J. Wojciechowski AKA Hymie Weiss the man Al Capone feared more than anyone check out this link. http://www.hymieweiss.com/index.html
This clip is another in our series "Chicago Crime now & Then" check out our playlist.http://www.youtube.com/user/ChiTownView?feature=watch
I have many sources for this series but the two sites that are at the top of my list are.
Chicago Crime Scene Project. http://chicagocrimescenes.blogspot.com/
ChiTownView is a production of MindsiMedia we have a web portal that offers more video,