“Machine Gun” Jack McGurn, a principal lieutenant of Chicago gangster Al Capone, had devised a plan to rid Capone of the rival “Bugs” Moran Gang once and for all. He would lure the entire gang, including Moran, to one spot and gun them down in mass. Capone agreed, and on February 14th, 1929, McGurn put his plan into action. Author Laurence Bergreen, in his biography Capone: The Man and The Era, recounts the bloodbath history remembers as the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.
St. Valentine's Day dawned cold and windy. The thermometer stood at eighteen degrees and few pedestrians ventured forth. At 10:30, the look-outs spotted a man they thought was “Bugs” Moran arrive at the S.M.C. Cartage Company; they notified the gunman, who immediately donned their stolen police uniforms and jumped into a stolen police car. They gave every appearance of cops engaged in a routine raid.
At that moment, McGurn's “cops” entered the garage. They ordered the seven men gathered there to raise their hands and to line up against the wall. Fooled by the disguise, the men, some of whom carried weapons, obeyed. They offered no struggle, no resistance. After disarming their victims, the four executioners suddenly opened fire on them with two machine guns, a sawed-off shotgun, and a .45. The bullets ripped into the bodies and within ten seconds the seven men slumped to the floor of the garage, dead.
As they left North Clark Street, McGurn's gunmen were convinced that they had accomplished their goal of wiping out the Moran gang. They were greatly mistaken, for “Bugs” Moran himself, their main target, was not among those in the garage. A few minutes late to the meeting, Moran happened to be coming down North Clark Street on foot just as the stolen police car pulled up in front of the S.M.C. Cartage Company. Fearing a raid, Moran kept on walking past the garage to safety. The stolen police car, designed to confuse witnesses and victims alike, instead scared Moran away: McGurn's plan, brilliant though it was, had proven too clever by half.
Soon, the mass execution came to be seen as the most vicious slaughter in the history of Chicago, if not the nation. There had been executions involving greater numbers of victims, but none could match the carnage in the garage of S.M.C. Cartage Company for its horror.
In newspapers across the country a consensus formed that Al Capone was no longer Chicago's problem, he was now a national issue. One morning soon after, President Herbert Hoover happened to be heaving a medicine ball — his preferred form of exercise — with the members of his cabinet. Among the participants was Andrew Mellon, the secretary of the Treasury. “Have you got this fellow Capone, yet?” asked Hoover between tosses of the ball. Mellon shook his head. “I want that man in jail,” said the president, resuming the game.
(This article courtesy of National Review Online).