Frank Gusenberg


Frank Gusenberg

Frank Gusenberg (1893 - 14 February 1929) was a gangster and a victim of the Saint Valentine's Day massacre in Chicago, Illinois.

Early life

Frank "Tight-lips" Gusenberg and his older brother Pete grew up tough on the North Side of Chicago. After graduating from petty crime into more serious offenses, they teamed up with Dean O'Banion, Hymie Weiss, and other members of the local mob scene. After the 1924 murder of O'Banion, Gusenberg joined his friends, led by Hymie Weiss, in getting revenge on the Capone mob.

The Gusenberg Brothers and the Chicago gang wars

Frank Gusenberg participated in the gargantuan drive-by shooting in the North Side performed on Capone's headquarters, the Hawthorne Hotel in Cicero, Illinois, riddling it with thousands of bullets on September 20, 1926. According to many accounts, the second to last car stopped in front of the hotel restaurant where Capone was cowering and Frank's brother Pete emerged, clad in a khaki Army shirt, brown overalls, and carrying a Thompson submachine gun fitted with a 100-round capacity drum. Kneeling in front of the doorway, Gusenberg emptied the entire drum into the restaurant, and then casually strolled back to his car, which then sped off to safety.

The attack worked. Capone was petrified and requested a sitdown between the two gangs. However it failed. Hymie Weiss was murdered three weeks later, and over the next couple years, the North Side Gang continued to weaken. The North Siders especially wished to kill Jack McGurn, as he was rumored to have been the machine-gunner who killed Weiss. On at least two occasions, the Gusenberg brothers tried to kill McGurn. Despite wounding him several times, Jack survived the attempts on his life.

By late 1928, the leader of the North Side Gang, Bugs Moran, struck an alliance with Al Capone's rival Joe Aiello. The latter, assisted by the Gusenberg brothers, killed Antonio Lombardo and Pasqualino Lolordo, presidents of the Unione Siciliane. It was from these murders that the plot to get rid of Bugs Moran sprang.

Final days

On February 14, 1929, members of the North Side gang gathered at a garage behind the offices of S.M.C. Cartage Company. Inside were Pete and Frank Gusenberg, Albert Weinshank, Adam Heyer, James Clark, John May, and Reinhardt Schwimmer. Five men of Capone's Gang drove to the garage in a stolen police car. Two of the men, dressed as police, entered the garage, pretending they were conducting an ordinary raid, and lined Moran's associates up against the wall. Once the men's backs were all turned, facing the wall, two other men of Capone (with civilian clothes) entered the room with machine guns and, along with the "cops", cut loose on the seven men, pounding 70 bullets into them in what would become known as the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.

When police arrived at the scene Frank Gusenberg, despite having 22 bullet wounds, was the only victim still alive. He was taken to the Alexian Brothers hospital in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. When asked "Who shot you?" Frank replied, "Nobody shot me" denying any justice to the murderers.

Although the killers (widely believed to have been members of Al Capone's gang), wiped out Bugs Moran's mob, they missed Moran himself. Upon seeing the squad car, he drove past the garage he was planning on entering. Like his associates, he had been fooled into thinking there was a police raid in progress.(It was during the Prohibiton and it was believed that the gang was there to receive shipments of smuggled liquor for a really cheap price, it turned out it was a trap)

In popular culture

*Frank Gusenberg would be portrayed in two movies about the era; In Roger Corman's "The St. Valentine's Day Massacre" (1967), Gusenberg was played by David Canary and in "Capone" (1975) by Ben Marino.
*Gusenburg was inspiration for "The Simpsons" character Johnny Tightlips who doesn't give any information away and answers very vaguely.

External links

* [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=2657 Frank Gusenberg] at Find-A-Grave
* [http://www.myalcaponemuseum.com/id29.htm My Al Capone Museum: St. valentine's Day Massacre victim's statistics]


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