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History's Mysterys Discovery Channel


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#1 Frank Iannamico

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 10:12 AM

I just happen to be channel surfing between the History channel, A&E and Discovery and saw a pretty good piece on Discovery's History's Mysterys program,
on the infamous St. Valentine's Day Massacre...

They showed the two Thompsons that were used and fired them, they also reenacted the shooting with lasers, and had a few crime scene investigators anaylize what happened. Then they had firearms expert and writer, Gary James fire a Thompson at some plaster board targets.

During the actual crime, they stated that 70 rounds were fired, the shooters used a 50 round L drum in one Thompson and an XX 20 round mag in the other. Out of 70 shots there were 67 hits. Gary James only got (I think) 23 hits out of 50 when he tried to duplicate the shooting. The conclusion was that the gansters were pretty good with a Thompson.

The CSI guys said that there were some entry wounds from the front, but after a demostration (using a police armored car, a brick wall, and a Thompson) they figured that the frontal wounds were ricochets from the brick wall the victims were lined up against.

I am not a gangster expert but I thought the show was pretty interesting. Some usual SNAFU's. The female narriator said that Thompsons could be bought at drug stores, and stated that " Amazingly, after 85 years the Thompsons used in the crime still worked!!"
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#2 Motorcar

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 10:27 AM

I stumbled on the same show last night and hope it re-airs soon as my wife thought a make over story was more interesting! I did see parts of it and got a good laugh over the "amazing they still worked!" bit too. Looked like a good show..what I saw of it.
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#3 nhglyn

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 10:39 AM

Does anyone know where the 2 tommy guns used in the massacre are now?
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#4 gijive

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 10:53 AM

PhilOhio,

Both Thompsons were recovered a few months after the massacre in Berrien County, Michigan. They were both positively identified by Calvin Goddard, using the recovered slugs and casings. Goddard was a private individual who pioneered the science of ballistics. He was hired by private citizen's to investigate the massacre and was responsible for creating the first crime detection laboratory in Chicago, which eventually became the Chicago Police Crime Lab. It was originally housed at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.

The guns are still in the possession of the Berrien County Michigan Sheriff's Department, who participated in the making of the Discovery Channel documentary. One of the actual guns was the one fired into the brick wall to demonstrate the ricochets that caused the frontal wounds.

For the record, one was a 1921A and the other was a 1921AC.
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#5 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 11:06 AM

I have a German Shepherd puppy from the pedigree of High Ball who was tied up in the garage and witnessed the executions.
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#6 gijive

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 11:53 AM

Arthur,

Good one! laugh.gif
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#7 nhglyn

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 12:53 PM

As long as we are on the subject, where are the infamous bricks from the wall now?
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#8 gijive

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 01:28 PM

PhilOhio,

Yes, you are thinking of Fred "Killer" Burke. He was a bank robber and hit man. In addition to the ammunition found at his rented home, there were two Thompsons (the ones eventually identified as being involved in the massacre), several drums (C and L), and other weapons. He was eventually convicted of the murder of a police officer in Michigan, but never tried in Illinois for his ties to the massacre.
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#9 wolfer113

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 08:43 PM

Thompsons aint the reason we have nfa laws.....the users would be to blame..not the guns...what if we started running around beating people to death with shovels? would they ban shovels? if you handed out shovels to everyone..the shovel murders would stop....samething would have happened if they would have handed out thompons back then....don't ban the guns....ban the criminals using them....just my 2 cents
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#10 JimFromFL

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 10:26 PM

QUOTE (wolfer113 @ Apr 1 2004, 08:43 PM)
Thompsons aint the reason we have nfa laws.....the users would be to blame..not the guns...what if we started running around beating people to death with shovels? would they ban shovels? if you handed out shovels to everyone..the shovel murders would stop....samething would have happened if they would have handed out thompons back then....don't ban the guns....ban the criminals using them....just my 2 cents

Wrong.... since shovels are widely accepted they would blame the people. Just like if someone drowns in my pool, I am to blame, not the pool. How many lives of children are lost to pools. How many lives are lost due to automobiles? The only time the automobiles are blames is when they malfunction. In every other scenario, neither the pool or car is too blame. But since firearms are NOT widely accepted then lets not blame the people, but blame the gun. Where is the logic??? blink.gif blink.gif
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#11 wolfer113

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 10:39 PM

Politics is the PROBLEM....if the gangs wasn't paying off the cops and political bastards...they would have been delt with and wouldn't be out sparying a thompson around to begin with
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#12 gijive

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Posted 03 April 2004 - 10:19 AM

Here are a couple of old photographs showing the Massacre scene rescontruction and one of the Thompsons recovered at Fred Burke's cottage in Berrien County, Michigan. The reconstruction photo was taken the day after the massacre, according to Bill Helmer's recent book on the Massacre events. The blood had been cleaned from the garage floor, but the rest of the garage remained like it was the morning before. Even the saws hanging on the wall (visible in the Massacre photos) haven't been moved. One can see how close the killers were standing to the victims.

Actually, I don't think the gangsters were such expert shots with the Thompson, I don't see how they could have missed. The recent Discovery Channel documentary was done very well, with the exception of the firearm' expert's spraying of the tommy gun. In my opinion, the killers didn't wave the guns back and forth like a hose the way the Discovery Channel showed it. No wonder the expert didn't have as many hits as the real victims suffered. Most members of this list have fired the Thompson in full auto mode and know that a few short bursts on each victim, in the confined area shown, would have been devastating. Look how close the killers would have been to the victim's and you can see that even a novice with the gun would have a hard time not scoring hits. Actually, I'm surprised that the killers themselves didn't get hit with any ricochets. Having shot at indoor police ranges for years at longer distances, I can attest that fragments of metal bullet jackets sometimes find their way back to the shooter. I guess we'll never know if the shooters got hit with some fragments, they never talked about it.

The first picture shows the Coroner's jury and police stand-ins recreating the position of the victims. The cars are still parked in the garage and the stand-in killers can't be more than ten to twelve feet away from the vcitims.

user posted image

The picture below, taken several months later, shows the 1921AC Thompson being test fired for comparison. This gun was shown on the Discovey Channel documentary being used to recreate the ricochet effect on the victims. If you look closely at the picture you can see that the serial number on this gun has been ground off the receiver. They later raised the number with acid and ruined the finish on the side of this gun. It was clearly evident in the recent documentary, and pictures of the same gun in Gordon Herigstad's show the receiver on this gun discolored from the acid. List memebr hardrede has seen this gun and could give a better description of it's condition.

user posted image

Here is a picture from the crime scene, taken at approximately the same angle as the top photo, showing the position of the bodies. Notice the blood on the floor that had been cleaned up for the top photo. Notice also in the recreation, that some of the stand-ins are standing on newspaper that has been spread on the floor. I guess they hadn't gotten all of the blood and brain matter up for the recreation and didn't want to get their wing-tips dirty :-)

user posted image

Enjoy the photos.
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#13 Grey Crow

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Posted 03 April 2004 - 06:48 PM

Speaking of books what ever happened to the member that was getting autographed copies for us?


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#14 gijive

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Posted 03 April 2004 - 07:36 PM

PhilOhio,

I agree with your assessment. My point was that fragments of jacketed bullets, even .45 ACP, can deform and travel off the bullet when it strikes a hard surface. I didn't mean to suggest that the shooters would have been hit by ricocheting bullets, especially at the angle of deflection and the fact the the victims were crowded against the brick wall. I have a photo, I'll post it later, of the bullets recovered during the shooting and subsequent autopsy. There a couple of fragments of jacketed bullets that were recovered. Based on the distance that the shots were fired from I think it is conceivable that the shooters may have experienced a jacket fragment or two in their direction, maybe not.

I meant the post to be entertaining and enlightening, not the final word on whether the shooters were injured by the ricochets. If you have not seen the Discovery Channel documentary, watch it if you get a chance. The recreation by the Berrien County Sheriff's Department, firing live ammo into a brick wall, is very telling. The simulated victims suffer many frontal wounds from bullets striking the wall and disintegrating, causing superficial wounds on the front of their bodies. Watch the video and then make a judgement about whether the shooters could have conceivably put themselves in harms way shooting seventy .45 caliber bullets at people standing against a brick wall at a distance of about ten feet.

I don't profess to have your knowledge of ballistics, but I can tell you as a retired police officer with many years of experience shooting and observing shooting victims, bullets can do some mighty strange things.

The above is written in the spirit of discussion, not as a contradiction of your post.
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#15 chitowngangster

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Posted 03 April 2004 - 10:34 PM

QUOTE (PhilOhio @ Apr 3 2004, 04:48 PM)
Most commercial .45 ACP ammo does not have enough power to penetrate all the way through the thick part of a human body, even without the winter clothing these mobsters wore.  And if a bullet does, it will retain very little energy.  We are told that all but a couple of the 70 rounds fired hit the victims.  So only a couple of bullets are likely to have hit the bricks with enough (full) energy to throw jacket fragments anywhere.  And it appears that one or more rounds which did so, came back and hit a victim from the front.  And those old fashioned bricks were mostly pretty soft, prone to crumble and absorb bullet energy, rather than reflect or deflect it.  Or so I have found to be true on ones I have fired at on a test range.

For all of these reasons, I don't find it unusual that the shooters may not have been in much danger of being hit by bouncing fragments.  Lead core bullets simply do not "bounce" backward 180 degrees when fired broadside at a hard surface like brick or cement.  They mushroom and/or disintegrate, if they have more power than .45 ACP...and with the weak .45 ACP jacketed bullet, they don't even do that.  At the most, they will mushroom almost flat, with the jacket holding in all, or nearly all, of the lead. The exception might be if they are fired at a fairly hard but springy surface, maybe springy steel, which can briefly store and then reflect some of the energy.  Over the years, I've collected lots of such bullets fired under all sorts of circumstances.  Many, which have penetrated animal tissue or wood, have so little deformation that they could be reloaded and fired again.  And just for the heck of it, I have done so. 

Even if gilding metal jacket pieces might separate and bounce from the brick, the shooters would be in absolutely no mortal danger, because of the 180 degree angle involved.  The worst that could have happened to them might be to lose an eye, or say "ouch" when a piece nicks a finger or forehead.

Phil your right on the money for the brick comment i own two bricks from that very wall.Gijive your also very well read on the subject and i give you credit for your great insight.
Now the bricks of that wall were made from red clay collected in the Chicago river.Some of the soot and debris from the Chicago fire is in that clay(I'm not joking)!!!Seems to be discrepancies with how many bullets did not hit the men.According to the coroners report all ,but seven bullets didn't hit the men lined against the wall).Some were even removed with a knife from the wall by the police.The gunners were very familiar with guns and killing.Fred Burke (Real name Thomas Camp)and company were seen by some military guy target practicing with the thompson a couple of weeks before the kill.
The gangland armourer (Peter Von Frantzius)at the time sold many gun especially thompsons to the Capone crew.
For 2 dollars extra he was willing to file off the serial numbers.A tree trunk was maintained in the back of his shop for firing the thompsons at.

user posted image
These are the some of the bullets removed from the massacre victims.

Check the prices below from Von Frantzius catalog for 1927 that's what they mean by the GOOD OLD DAYS! laugh.gif

user posted image

Edited by chitowngangster, 03 April 2004 - 11:04 PM.

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#16 chitowngangster

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Posted 03 April 2004 - 10:48 PM

QUOTE (gijive @ Apr 3 2004, 07:36 PM)
PhilOhio,

I agree with your assessment. My point was that fragments of jacketed bullets, even .45 ACP, can deform and travel off the bullet when it strikes a hard surface. I didn't mean to suggest that the shooters would have been hit by ricocheting bullets, especially at the angle of deflection and the fact the the victims were crowded against the brick wall. I have a photo, I'll post it later, of the bullets recovered during the shooting and subsequent autopsy. There a couple of fragments of jacketed bullets that were recovered. Based on the distance that the shots were fired from I think it is conceivable that the shooters may have experienced a jacket fragment or two in their direction, maybe not.

I meant the post to be entertaining and enlightening, not the final word on whether the shooters were injured by the ricochets. If you have not seen the Discovery Channel documentary, watch it if you get a chance. The recreation by the Berrien County Sheriff's Department, firing live ammo into a brick wall, is very telling. The simulated victims suffer many frontal wounds from bullets striking the wall and disintegrating, causing superficial wounds on the front of their bodies. Watch the video and then make a judgement about whether the shooters could have conceivably put themselves in harms way shooting seventy .45 caliber bullets at people standing against a brick wall at a distance of about ten feet.

I don't profess to have your knowledge of ballistics, but I can tell you as a retired police officer with many years of experience shooting and observing shooting victims, bullets can do some mighty strange things.

The above is written in the spirit of discussion, not as a contradiction of your post.

Gijive good info on your part it goes well with Phil's to make a global view of the massacre.I wonder if the re-enactors placed the victims very close to one another thus filling the gaps between them to prevent bullets from hitting the wall directly.The garage contained many vehicles(about 7) we do not see thus it was very cramped.The gunners could have aimed by leaning on vehicles and thus protecting themselves also.
The fake police lined up the victims and one let in the gunners through the front door.
The men lined up had no idea until the shooting started when one tried to whip out his .38 which was photographed on the floor.


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#17 chitowngangster

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Posted 03 April 2004 - 10:53 PM

You can view some of the actual bricks,Fred Burke and the massacre at my siteSt. Val Massacre and Capone

Enjoy! wink.gif
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#18 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 11:35 AM

I'm not so sure about the proficiency of the Capone shooters. One of their victims managed to survive the spray of bullets long enough to make a statement from his hospital bed before succumbing to his wounds. Fortunately for Burke and others, the mobster wasn't a stoolie.
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#19 chitowngangster

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 02:54 PM

QUOTE (Arthur Fliegenheimer @ Apr 4 2004, 11:35 AM)
I'm not so sure about the proficiency of the Capone shooters. One of their victims managed to survive the spray of bullets long enough to make a statement from his hospital bed before succumbing to his wounds. Fortunately for Burke and others, the mobster wasn't a stoolie.

The guy that survived happened to have 14 slugs in his body.So i don't think they missed hitting him.It just happened that he survived for three hours.Frank Gusenberg was one tough son of a b%$#
None of the gangsters in those days stooled on rival gangs.It was an unwritten code amongst them.

Edited by chitowngangster, 04 April 2004 - 02:55 PM.

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#20 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 03:55 PM

chit,
If the object was to see how many bullets a human body could sustain without dying, then they exceeded beyound their wildest expectations. But the object of the excercise was to eradicate Moran and his boys. These hoods miscalculated Moran being there and then they left a witness alive. The fact that Gussenburg was stoic to the end seems to only underline the wreckless stupidity of the gangster mentality. I'm not sure what prestige there would be to own a bullet-ridden brick from the wall of the garage other than some morbid curiosity like those who couldn't wait to grab a piece off of Bonnie and Clyde's death car.

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