Dean O'Banion - Death

Death

On November 3, 1924, Dean O'Banion inadvertently signed his own death warrant during an argumentative phone call to arch-rival Angelo Genna. This final beef originated at "The Ship", the gambling casino that the North Side gang boss owned along with the Torrio Syndicate. On this day, O'Banion sat in with Al Capone, Frank Nitti, Frank Rio, and others to tally the week's profits. It was mentioned that Angelo Genna had dropped a large amount of cash, plus a sizeable marker. Capone recommended that they cancel the marker as a professional courtesy. O'Banion, instead, got Genna on the telephone and abusively demanded that he pay his debt within a week. With this personal insult, Angelo Genna and his family could no longer be restrained. Heretofore, Mike Merlo and the Unione Siciliana had refused to sanction a hit on O'Banion. However, Merlo had terminal cancer and died on November 8, 1924. With Merlo gone, the Gennas and South Siders were free to move on O'Banion.

Using the Merlo funeral as a cover story, over the next few days Brooklyn gangster Frankie Yale and others visited Schofield's, O'Banion's flower shop, to discuss floral arrangements. However, the real purpose of these visits was to memorize the store layout for the hit on O'Banion.

On the morning of November 10, 1924, O'Banion was clipping chrysanthemums in Schofield's back room. Yale entered the shop with Genna gunmen John Scalise and Albert Anselmi. When O'Banion attempted to greet Yale with a handshake, Yale clasped O'Banion's hand in a death grip. At the same time, Scalise and Anselmi fired two bullets into O'Banion's chest and two in his throat. One of the killers fired a final, fatal bullet into the back of Deanie's head after he had slumped face down on the floor.

Since Dean O'Banion was a major crime figure, the Catholic Church denied him burial on consecrated ground. However, a priest O'Banion had known since childhood recited the Lord's Prayer and three Hail Marys in his memory. Despite this restriction, O'Banion received a lavish funeral, much larger than the Merlo funeral the day before. O'Banion was buried in Mount Carmel Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois under the direction of Sbarbaro & Co. Undertakers, 708 N. Wells, Chicago, directly four blocks west of O'Banion's flower shop. Dating back to 1885, this Italian firm handled many of the funerals for reputed gangsters, including the lavish funeral for Merlo the day before. Due to the opposition from church officials, O'Banion was originally interred in unconsecrated ground. However, his family was eventually allowed to rebury him on consecrated ground elsewhere in the cemetery.

The O'Banion killing sparked a brutal five-year gang war between the North Side Gang and the Chicago Outfit that culminated in the killing of seven North Side gang members in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre in 1929.

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