Reporting John Cody
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CHICAGO (CBS) – A local author says you can blame gangster Al Capone for a lot of things, but not for the infamous Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929.
Jonathan Eig, author of “Get Capone” blames the murders of seven mobsters in a garage at 2122 N. Clark St. on a fatal bar fight, not a gang war between Capone and the “Bugs” Moran gang.
Eig says Capone had already won his war with Moran, so there was no reason to gun down rival George “Bugs” Moran’s troops; and he was too busy fighting a federal indictment to be involved.
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“It never made any sense to suspect that Al Capone was involved, because by 1929, Capone didn’t really have a very strong rivalry with the Moran gang. He had won that fight. He had no reason to take such a huge risk,” Eig said.
In “Get Capone,” Eig asserts the killing was an act of revenge by the family of Billy Daverne, a young firefighter who was shot to death by Peter and Frank Gusenberg, two of the seven massacre victims.
“Just about any time you see seven men dead, there’s a reason that somebody was angry, and in this case, I suspect that it was the family of a young firefighter who was killed by some members of the Moran gang,” Eig said. “This firefighter named Billy Daverne was shot by the Gusenberg boys and his family sought retaliation.”
Eig says, while the Gusenbergs were members of the Moran gang, that was incidental to their part in the bar shooting that killed Daverne.
“If he (Capone) did want to eliminate his competitor, Bugs Moran, he easily could have killed Moran himself,” Eig said.
Eig says it was ironic that the Valentine’s Day Massacre, which led to the federal crackdown on Capone and other Prohibition Era gangsters, actually had nothing to do with Capone, as he claims.