The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre remains the most notorious gangster killing of the Prohibition era. The massacre made Al Capone a national celebrity as well as brought him the unwanted attention of the federal government.
On the morning of February 14, 1929, the lookouts (Harry and Phil Keywell) were watching carefully as the Moran gang assembled at the garage. Around 10:30, the lookouts recognized a man heading to the garage as “Bugs” Moran. The lookouts told the gunmen; the gunmen climbed into the stolen police car.
When the stolen police car reached the garage, the four gunmen (Fred “Killer” Burke, John Scalise, Albert Anselmi, and Joseph Lolordo) jumped out. (Some reports say there were five gunmen.)
Two of the gunmen were dressed in police uniforms. When the gunmen rushed into the garage, the seven men inside saw the uniforms and thought it was a routine police raid. Continuing to believe the gunmen to be police officers, all seven men peacefully did as they were told. They lined up, faced the wall, and allowed the gunmen to remove their weapons.
The gunmen then opened fire, using two Tommy guns, a sawed-off shotgun, and a .45. The killing was fast and bloody. Each of the seven victims received at least 15 bullets, mostly in the head and torso.
The gunmen then left the garage. As they exited, neighbors who had heard the rat-tat-tat of the submachine gun, looked out their windows and saw two (or three, depending on reports) policemen walking behind two men dressed in civilian clothes with their hands up.
The neighbors assumed that the police had staged a raid and were arresting two men. After the massacre was discovered, many continued to believe for several weeks that the police were responsible.