this day in crime history: september 16, 1920

On this date in 1920, an unidentified man stopped his horse-drawn cart in front of the J. P. Morgan building on Wall Street. He got down from the cart and disappeared into the noontime crowd. A short while later, a bomb consisting of dynamite and cast iron slugs detonated on the busy street. Thirty-eight people were killed and over four hundred were injured. Police conducted an exhaustive investigation that lasted over three years, but the case was never solved.

Further reading:

The Street.com: “Previous Terror on Wall Street — A Look at a 1920 Bombing”

FBI: Terror on Wall Street

Wikipedia: “Wall Street bombing”

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this day in crime history: september 10, 1931

SalMaranzano

On this date in 1931, mafia “Boss of Bosses” Salvatore Maranzano was shot and stabbed to death in his office in Manhattan. Maranzano, whose reign as top man of the American Mafia lasted only a few months, became just a little too power hungry to suit his fellow mafiosi. Maranzano became aware of this resentment and began making arrangements to eliminate those who would oppose him. But one ambitious young gangster – Charles “Lucky” Luciano – beat Maranzano to the punch and had him rubbed out first, thereby living up to one of the golden rules of organized crime: Do unto others before they do unto you.

Further reading:

National Crime Syndicate – How Did Salvatore Maranzano Get Killed?

Encyclopedia Britannica – Salvatore Maranzano

Find a Grave – Salvatore Maranzano

Wikipedia – Salvatore Maranzano

this day in crime history: september 8, 1935

On the day in 1935, Senator Huey “The Kingfish” Long was shot in the Louisiana State Capitol.  He died two days later of complications from the wound.

Long was shot after a confrontation with Carl Weiss, a Baton Rouge doctor.  Weiss allegedly took exception to Long’s persecution of Weiss’s in-laws, who were Long opponents.  Weiss was shot multiple times by Long’s bodyguards and died at the scene.

The details of what actually happened aren’t clear, and several theories exist as to what went down.  The official story is that Weiss ambushed Long in the hallway of the Capitol and shot him.  But some people believe that Long was mistakenly shot by his bodyguards.  One theory has it that Weiss never even drew a gun, and that Long’s bodyguards overreacted, shooting Long and Weiss, then planting Weiss’s .32 automatic (which he usually kept in the glove compartment of his car) at the scene.

Thanks to a lack of modern forensics and a slipshod investigation, we’ll probably never know what really happened that night.

Further reading:

HueyLong.comAssassination

Wikipedia – Huey Long

this day in crime history: september 4, 1977

SF Imperial Palace

On this date in 1977, a feud between two of San Francisco’s  Chinese street gangs led to a slaughter at the Golden Dragon restaurant. The Joe Boys were angry over the recent death of one of their members in a gunfight with the rival Wah Ching gang. Acting on a tip that a senior Wah Ching member would be at the Golden Dragon, a group of Joe Boys descended on the restaurant armed with shotguns and semi-automatic weapons. Upon entering the restaurant, they fired indiscriminately into the crowd. Five innocent bystanders were killed and eleven wounded. The target of the hit, Michael “Hot Dog” Louie, escaped unscathed.

Police rounded up five members of the Joe Boys. They were tried and convicted in connection with the murder. A  retaliation by the Wah Ching followed the massacre, which was then followed by the formation of the San Francisco Police Department’s  Asian Gang Task Force. The Golden Dragon went out of business in 2006. It’s location is now the home of the Imperial Palace restaurant.

Further reading:

Wikipedia – Golden Dragon massacre

Found SF – The Golden Dragon Restaurant Massacre

Mister SF – Golden Dragon Massacre

this day in crime history: september 2, 1885

On this day in 1885, white miners working at the Union Pacific coal mine in Rock Springs, WY started a riot that resulted in the murder of over two dozen Chinese immigrants.

The trouble started at the beginning of the work day when ten white miners showed up on the work site and announced that Chinese miners were banned from a more productive part of the mine (workers were paid per ton of coal they mined, making certain work locations more desirable). The confrontation resulted in a fight in which two Chinese miners were beaten. One of the beaten men later died of his wounds.

The white miners walked off the job, resulting in a work stoppage. They went into town where they gathered at local bars, and at the Knights of Labor (a union that was trying to organize the white miners). After a few hours of drinking and fuming about the Chinese miners (who worked for less money than the white miners, and were blamed by the whites for low wages), a large group of white miners headed for Chinatown. Many of the miners were armed.

In the ensuing chaos, 28 Chinese miners were killed, 15 were wounded, and 79 homes were burned to the ground. Many of the homes were looted by white miners before they were burned. At the request of the territorial governor, the Army was called in to restore order.

Sixteen men were eventually arrested, but the grand jury refused to indict them. They returned to a hero’s welcome in Rock Springs. No one was ever successfully prosecuted for the crimes committed that day.

Further reading:

History Matters – “To This We Dissented”: The Rock Springs Riot

Wikipedia – Rock Springs Massacre

Wikipedia – List of victims of the Rock Springs massacre

this day in crime history: august 31, 1985

Stalker

On this date in 1985, police in Los Angeles, CA broke up a mob that was beating a man they had detained. The man was Richard Ramirez, better known as the Night Stalker. The crowd had recognized him from a mugshot that had recently been shown on TV. The LAPD had identified Ramirez as the prime suspect in over a dozen murders, as well as attempted murders, sexual assaults, and burglaries.

Ramirez was tried and convicted of 13 murders, 5 attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults, and 14 burglaries. He was sentenced to death. Richard Ramirez died of cancer while awaiting execution. He was 53 years old and had been on death row for 23 years.

In a strange twist, Ramirez was captured on the 97th anniversary of the murder of Mary Ann Nichols, the first of the canonical five victim’s of  Jack the Ripper’s.

Further reading:

Wikipedia – Richard Ramirez

Crime Museum – Richard Ramirez: The Night Stalker

About.com – The Night Stalker – Richard Ramirez

this day in crime history: august 25, 1967

A Mauser C96 pistol similar to the one used to kill George Lincoln Rockwell in 1967.
A Mauser C96 pistol similar to the one used to kill George Lincoln Rockwell in 1967.

On this date in 1967, George Lincoln Rockwell, founder and head of the American Nazi Party, was shot and killed while leaving a shopping center parking lot in Arlington, VA. John Patler, 29, a former member of Rockwell’s organization was arrested at a bus stop half a mile from the scene of the crime. He had discarded the gun in a nearby creek. Patler had been expelled by the Nazis several months earlier. He was tried and convicted of the murder and sentenced to 20 years in prison. He was paroled in 1975.

Further reading:

BBC – ‘American Hitler’ shot dead

Wikipedia – George Lincoln Rockwell

The Free Lance Star: December 16, 1967 – Patler Convicted, Faces 20 Years