Chicago gangster Ted Newberry says: "He must have done something. They don't kill you for nothing." Ted was rubbed out on January 7, 1933

Arrest of Francis 'Two Gun' Crowley

Meet Kiki

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Happy Walpurgis nacht! Stay off the Borgo pass.

Knock yer Block off

Was that? You wannanother story bout the ol days. Well awright, let me think on er....Oh yeah,  it was eighty-two years ago today believe it or not when this feller by name of Harry Block got his. Who was Harry? Well Harry was a, was a, was the word?... an associate, that'll work, of Owney Madden.

Now Harry, he owned a piece of the Cotton Club and the Silver Slipper. Thems was popular nightclubs back then. Harry was also known to bootleg some as well. Police figured this is what probly got Harry dead.

Way I figure it Block didn't know he was a marked man. You see, he picked his wife up at Seventh Ave and 47th Street and they had some eats at the restaurant at the Paramount hotel. After that they went to a late show at the Capitol Theater. Then to Dave's Blue Room for more food and finally caught a taxi for home. Harry and the Missus lived at the Sherman Square Apartments at 173 West 73rd Street. What? How do I know this?I know this cause I was the doorman. You want the story or don't you? Fine.

It was three in the A.M when the Blocks arrived. I unlocked the door and escorted them to the elevator. I got on and stood by the control panel. Mrs. Block stepped in and got behind me. Then Harry stepped in and turned around and faced the front. Just as the doors was shuttin' two fellers appears out of nowhere and each of them got a pistol in each hand. One of them yells at Harry who, seeing the pistols, let out a scream and throwed up his arm over his face. The gunmen let loose a thunderous barrage. Seemed to go on forever. Police said later was twenty three shots fired. A number of them come to rest in Harry's neck and forearm.

The fellas with the guns run outta the building and jump in a tan sedan. I wanted to call an ambulance but Mrs. Block said "No it'll bring the police." I thought that might be a good idea myself but I followed her lead and we put Harry in cab and she took him to the hospital herself. Diddint make no difference no how, Harry was dead.

Monday, April 28, 2014


Was this date in 1927, it was, when Timothy Looman was walking on the lower West side when Thomas O’Brien, said to have been a “gun toter” for the Cry Baby gang, (who was the Cry Baby gang you ask? Why the answer to that can be found in Bad Seeds in the Big Apple) approached him from the opposite direction. When the two men were about thirty feet away from each other, both pulled out a gun and started blasting away at each other in true old west fashion.

Witness’s said up to thirty shots were fired, (but who can trust them, really?) and Looman collapsed on the corner (not unlike Rocky Raccoon who collapsed "in the corner") but before dropping dead he managed to hit O'Brien.Severely wounded, O’Brien tried to run away but only got as far as the St. Bernard’s Roman Catholic Church, before crumpling to the sidewalk. A Monsignor and a priest (who bore striking resemblances to Pat O'Brien and Spencer Tracy) were the first ones to reach O’Brien and after viewing his wounds, administered the last rights, which was good cause he died the following day.

Friday, April 25, 2014


Not since the Dalton Brothers were shot to pieces in Coffeyville, Kansas have three siblings fell so fast before an enemies gun until the Lawlor brothers caught lead on this date back in 1930 . The Lawlors were not trying to rob a bank when they were shot down however, not that they were above banditry, the brothers all had police records and were not unknown to prison, but they in fact were toiling in the Hells Kitchen speakeasy owned by their brother in-law Bartley Cronin when the end came.

Twenty-three year old Lawrence was behind the bar when gangster in training David Beadle entered the tavern and began waving a pistol around. Knowing the violent history of the Lawlor Brothers, the customers began to inch their way to the door as Lawrence hollered at twenty-two year old Beadle. Beadle began gloating about his toughness, which only enraged Lawrence who came out from behind the bar and went for the gunman.

Beadle pointed his gun at Lawrence’s heart and pulled the trigger. Lawrence dropped in the doorway separating the bar and the back room. Hearing the shot, brothers Michael and William came out of the rear room and, seeing their prostrate brother, jumped over him and rushed Beadle who quickly fired off another fusillade. Three of the bullets found their mark, Michael was hit in both the head and chest and William was critically wounded in the stomach. Beadle quickly exited but was later picked up by the police.

Lawrence was dead before the authorities arrived and Michael, age thirty, died at the hospital. Thirty-three year old William eventually recovered.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

And the Weiner is...

Today marks the seventy-ninth anniversary of hoodlum Robert Weiner taking his final bow on the Gangster City stage.

Weiner first came to attention in 1926 when he was arrested for his participation in the botched Tombs breakout by his pal Hyman Amberg and the latter’s associates Robert Berg and Mike McKenna. After being interrogated by Sgt. Rubberhose and Lt. Blackjack he signed a confession stating that he supplied the guns used in the deadly break out.

He spent thirteen months on death row because of the confession but was subsequently released after a retrial. At the very least it seems that he was going to act as getaway driver for the escapees.

In December of 1928 Weiner was arrested with three other bandits during an attempted safe blowing. Since they were picked up before they actually got into the safe they only received two years for having guns.

Weiner next shows up in custody in 1932 for his part in trying to organize a pharmacy racket. Nothing came of it. The Weinster managed to stay out of sight until April 20, 1935 when he was taking part in a supposed drug deal. Something went awry and Weiner pulled his gun and fired two shots into another guy’s throat. Some one else pulled out his roscoe and sent a .38 caliber telegram into Weiner’s windpipe.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Pop, Pop, Pop Egan

London, Paris, Frankfurt, Cleveland everyone talk about Pop Egan. Talk about, Pop Egan. Talk about...

John “Pop” Egan had been out of Sing Sing for four months when he was sleeping in the rear of Samuel Zournagian’s grocery store (which police said also doubled as a gang hangout) on this date back in 1927.

At about 9:15 pm three fellas came into the rear of the building and woke Pop up. As the ex-con was rising one of them drew a pistol and popped Pop twice in the head.

Pop went back to sleep.

Two men, James Durkin and Thomas “Scrub” Morrissey, were both subsequently arrested for the murder but both were acquitted June 19, 1928 for lack of evidence.

Wonder why they woke him up first?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Spring break

Took the DGIS staff to Cali for spring break here's some video.

Friday, April 11, 2014

All in a day's work

 One hundred years ago today, at 5:30p.m., officer Hughes was standing on the corner of 116th and First Ave.when a woman came up to him and said a gang had just stole her purse. Hughes followed her back and she identified one of the gang -Louis Pietro- as one of those who had robbed her and Hughes grabbed him.

Within a couple of moments Pietro's confederates started pelting Hughes with rocks and anything else that could be used for a missile. Then Pietro's gang mates attacked the officer and took his nightstick and freed their pal who took off running into a six story tenement.

Hughes pulled away from the mob and chased Pietro up the six flights to the roof and caught him just as he was trying to jump onto a fire escape. A good old fashioned Hollywood type brawl ensued as cop and robber duked it out on the roof. Each one getting the better of the other. After a bit Hughes finally subdued Pietro and dragged him down the six flights of stairs. Back on the side walk Pietro's boys once again started to pelt the officer with bricks & whatnot. (whatnots really hurt by the way)

Having enough Hughes pushed Pietro up against the wall and pulled out his pistol and held the other gang members at bay. Fortunately during the melee somebody in the neighborhood called the police and soon the gong of a paddy wagon could be heard approaching.

One of the gang members slipped out of the crowd and pushed the stolen purse back into the original owner's hands and everyone took off, save Pietro who was taken to the station.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Bag full of Mike

Robberies were a near daily occurance on Manhattan's lower west side eight plus decades ago so saloon keeper Tony Renali got a gun and placed it near his cash register. A week or so later, 92-years ago today to be exact, three local bandits armed with gats entered his bar and held up the joint. They took $90 from Renali's register and whatever the customers had.

Once they had the goods the banditti - Angelo Sposato, John Drinane and Mike Swift aka "Mike the Burglar"- exited the premises promising to kill anyone who tried to follow. As the trio left, Swift in the rear, Renali grabbed his pistol and let it say goodbye for him. Swift caught both parting sentiments in the back. He staggered then fell. His pals turned and sent some lead at Renali and his patrons and they fled into the rear of the saloon. Picking up their wounded partner Sposato and Drinane took off.

Renali called the police and while he was on the phone, a couple of blocks away two cops saw Sposato and Drinane lift a large burlap sack off a delivery wagon and start for a tenement building. Something didn't look right so they approached the guys and, looking in the bag, found "Mike the burglar" suffering from his wounds. Mike was shipped off to the hospital and his confederates to the police station where Renali ID'd both of them.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Mandatory retirement

     Normally those put on the spot are spry young fellers in their 20's or 30's but todays victim, in a later era, would have qualified for the senior citizens discount at McDonald's. Sixty-five year old Frank Lauritano was called a "Well-to-do" resident of the Brownsville –East New York section of Brooklyn and had been arrested three years previously for his connection with a policy game.
     After he finished his dinner on this date in 1930, he took a walk to the jewelry store to have his eye glasses fixed. On his way back as he approached his house three men fired anywhere from four to seven shots the exact number doesn't really matter, the result is he was killed. Hearing the shots, neighbors rushed out on their porches and saw three men running to a car, which whisked them away.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Pulpy goodness

The real reason train travel declined in the U.S. It wasn't autos and planes, it was gun toting troglodytes killing guys and stealing their women caveman style.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Jail break

Eighty-four years ago today Anthony Tarrella became an ex-con by escaping from Sing Sing prison but not the way he intended. After dinner he and the other inmates were out in the yard when the call came to line up and return to their cells.

As the convicts were marching in Tarrella suddenly ran for the wall in full view of the machine-gun toting guards. His brothers in stripes yelled for him to stop but he made it to the wall and scaled the twelve feet and dropped. He ran to the second wall, an eighteen footer, and climbed that one too as one of the guards raised his Tommy gun and yelled, “Stay where you are or I’ll shoot!”

Tarrella flung himself off the wall and was momentarily free as his body flew into the Hudson River, but just as he splashed down the officer with the Thompson let go with a blast. Moments later Tarrella floated to the surface, an ex-convict

Friday, April 4, 2014

Smoking kills

Thirty year old James Clark was a former member of Tanner Smith's gang* whose claim to fame was having took part in a theft of $92,000 worth of aspirin in 1926. On this date in 1929 at 9:30pm Clark walked into a drug store at 383 8th Avenue for a pack of cigarettes. When he stepped back outside some one placed a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. Miraculously Clark wasn't killed out right and was rushed to the hospital where he refused to talk to police.

*For the low down on the Tanner Smith gang check out Gangster City

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


John Lewis, known to his contemporaries as Spanish Louis, was walking along Second Avenue early on this date in 1910. As he was making his way somebody came up and said a "friend" wanted to see him around the corner. Louis made the turn and walked a couple yards up the block when, April Fools!!!, the "friend" turned out to be three rival gangsters hired to kill him. Louis caught on to the joke at the last moment because he managed to draw his gun before a bullet pierced his head. Ah, those funny gangsters.

For more on Spanish Louis and the guys who killed him check out Gangster City.