On this date in 1931 New York had their very own version of the St. Valentines Day Massacre when three men were kidnapped from a dance club, driven to a remote area, lined up against a wall and mowed down with machine guns. Wow! A mini-massacre. How come we never heard of that before. Well, cause it didn’t really happen that way, but the editors of the daily rags thought it sounded good and, really when you think about it, why bother with facts. However, when only one of the victims died it was learned that .38’s were used and not machine guns so the public was un-impressed and the story was quickly forgotten.
How the non-massacre really went down - Anthony Ferrara stepped
out of a Brooklyn Dance along with his friends Angelo Ciurrani and Murray Leonardi. He was immediately jumped by two men and dragged to a sedan and tossed into the
rear tonneau where gang leader Barney Wolfson and two others waited.
informed his two henchman, let's call them Stan & Ollie, that they grabbed the wrong guy, it was
Ciurrani that he wanted not Ferrara. You see, Wolfson lead a gang of
desperadoes that did some robbin’ and supposedly some killin’ and
Ciurrani was a former member of the Wolfson mob who had “failed to
connect” on a couple of jobs and to make matters worse was now bad
mouthing Wolfson. So, with pistols drawn the two men went back and got
Ciurrani and Leonardi (who for some reason stayed put???) and forced them into the car at gun point. They didn't even want Leonardi either but since he and Ferrara were there and dead men tell no yarns…
three amigos were taken to a lumberyard in a secluded part of Brooklyn
and lined up against the wall. Unfortunately for Ferrara, Wolfson an
ex-marine with much gun experience, stood behind him while Ciurrani and
Leonardi had average gun-toting schmoes (we'll assume Stan & Ollie; you'll see why) behind them. The signal was
given and the triggers pulled. Ferrara dropped with a bullet in the head while Ciurrani and
Leonardi’s would be executioners missed completely (see) and the duo made a
run for it. However, Wolfson, (the guy who could shoot) managed to bring both down with two shots a
piece before they got far.
The killers drove away while Ciurrani
and Leonardi, both still alive, began to crawl to safety. Luckily for
the wounded men the night watchman from the slaughterhouse across the
street heard the shooting and called the authorities who arrived in
minutes. Although unconscious when the ambulance arrived, Ciurrani came
to in the hospital and told the police what happened.
Epilogue: Five days
later police got a tip that a group of gangsters were holing up in the
Bushwick section of Brooklyn. With upwards of thirty officers armed
with shotguns, riot guns and tear gas the authorities surrounded the
building. Three detectives made their way to the second story apartment
and, hearing voices inside, knocked on the door. No one responded to the
knock so the detectives proceeded to blow the lock off the door with a
Inside they found seven members of the gang, one, Harry
Liebowitz, on the floor screaming over a superficial wound. The others,
including Wolfson, were all found hidden around the apartment and gave
up without a fight. In addition to a number of robberies and two
murders, the police tried to blame the lumber yard shooting on them and
after nineteen hours of "questioning" the gang admitted to the shooting.
year old Ferrara, although killed for being in the wrong place at the
wrong time, was a member of the underworld. He had a record dating back
to 1922 when he was arrested as a juvenile delinquent. He was arrested
again on November 27, 1929 for assault and robbery but discharged only
to be arrested a month later with Leonardi for robbery for which both
young men were sent to Elmira.