enter name and hit return
THE WHITE HAND GANG also referred to as THE LOVETT GANG & LONERGAN GANG
The White Hand Gang operated in the Red Hook Brooklyn waterfront area
from about 1900. They were the Irish answer to the Italian Black Hand gang in
Manhattan and were involved in extracting "protection" money from wagon drivers
on the piers, shaking down foreign stevedores and Saturday dice games.
They did not get involved with bootlegging or drug smuggling, which was a
cause of discontent among the younger members who believed that would be more
By 1932 most of the old-timers had been killed and the gang stopped functioning.
A Bay Ridge gangster, Charles "Vannie" HIGGINS, who controlled the Bay Ridge
waterfront and a lucrative bootlegging business was interested in the Red Hook
waterfront, and was thought to have been involved in some of the murders of
some of the LOVETT gang leaders. He was killed in 1932. Matty MARTIN, suspected
of killing Charles DONNELLY, may have been the only old-timer who wanted to join
with the Bay Ridge outfit.
New York Times
14 October 1910, pg 3
GANG BEATS MAN TO DEATH.
Puts Another In a Hospital and He, Too, May Not Survive
Another murder was laid yesterday at the door of the "White Hand Gang," a
band of young toughs which for some time has terrorized the neighborhood of
Court and Baltic Streets, Brooklyn. One man was beaten to death and another
so badly mauled by the gang yesterday morning that it is feared he, too, will
die. This latest crime will probably lead to the breaking up of the vicious band,
as the residents of the district are aroused, and the police are determined to put
an end to its evil work.
Joseph BOYLE, an engineer, of 188 Amity Street, was the man whose life was taken
by the gang. He was beaten to death while trying to rescue James DONAHUE, a stableman,
of 123 Congress Street, from the hands of the toughs. DONAHUE is in the Long Island
College Hospital suffering from injuries which may cause his death.
The fight occurred in front of a saloon at 172 Court Street, of which James
HIGGENS is the proprietor. Late on Wednesday night one of the members of the
gang became quarrelsome in the saloon and HIGGENS had him put out by a policeman.
The gangster threatened revenge. After midnight Thomas O'CONNELL, as he calls
himself, but is known in the neighborhood as "Peter the Buck," a reputed member
of the gang, appeared in the saloon and began abusing everybody there. It is
alleged that when he went out he threatened to return and "clean out the place."
A few minutes later BOYLE and DONAHUE were standing in front of the saloon in
which they had been sitting when "Peter the Buck," it is alleged, and half a
dozen members of the gang came up and began a concerted attack on DONAHUE and BOYLE.
New York Times
31 October 1919, p 32
FIRM TWICE ROBBED WITHIN ONE WEEK
Thieves Used Truck to Take Away Dress goods on Second Visit
THREE AUTOISTS ARRESTED
Charged with Stealing Machine and Violating Sullivan Law - Brooklyn Man Shot in Feud
[Omitted from transcription - "Firm Twice Robbed within one Week"]
Policeman SULLIVAN of the West Sixty-eighth Street Station, while at Columbus
Avenue and Sixtieth streets early yesterday morning, was told by a resident nearby
that a "suspicious looking group were in an automobile halted around the corner."
Sullivan arrested three men in the car who said they were :
W. C. and Francis E. O'CONNOR of 115 Vanderbilt Avenue and 287 Hudson Avenue, and
William J. MURRAY, 42 Cleremont Avenue, Brooklyn.
They were charged with stealing the auto, which was said to have been stolen
from Samuel GERNER at 188 Powell Street, Brooklyn. SULLIVAN said a revolver
was in the car, and on the charge of violating the Sullivan law each of the men
was held in $500 bail by Magistrate DOURAS in the West Side Court. The automobile
theft charge will be transferred to Brooklyn, it was said.
- - - - - - -
Two men shot at Samuel ANGELO early yesterday morning in the restaurant at 140
Sands Street, Brooklyn, wounding him in three places. He is said to be in a
serious condition at the Brooklyn Hospital. Policemen REID and MURRAY after a
chase of several blocks, arrested
Charles DONNELLY, 132 York Street, and
William LOVETT, 155 Prospect Street,
and charged them with the shooting. The police said the attack on
ANGELO was due to a feud.
- - - - - - - -
At the trial in the Kings County Court yesterday of Edward HUGHES, 21 years
old of 174 Tillary Street, and Philip HANLON, 22 years old, of 58 Utica Avenue,
Brooklyn, charged with robbery, the testimony showed that they and two others
had tried to carry off goods from the tailor shop at 263 Wyckoff Avenue while
the tailor was playing pinochle in the rear room of his shop with three policemen
who were off duty. The policeman dropped their cards and chased the thieves to an
automobile standing outside, in which they escaped after an exchange of shots.
HUGHES and HANLON were arrested a week later. One of them pleaded guilty to grand
larceny and the other was convicted by a jury of petit larceny.
New York Times
1 April 1920 p. 15
GUNMAN MURDERED ASLEEP WITH WIFE
Dennis L. MEEHAN Shot Dead by five Men Who Pushed His Little Son Aside.
ONE BULLET WOUNDS HIS WIFE
Slayers Believed to Have Been Fellow-Criminals Prompted by Revenge
WEST SIDE THIEF KILLED
Gang Leader Shot Dead in Taxicab After Stealing Bread and Milk
The murder of Dennis L. MEEHAN, described by the police as "the most desperate
gang leader in Brooklyn"; the shooting and killing of "Red Dan" HOULIHAN, a
youthful gunman, as he and three unidentified companions were fleeing in a
taxicab from a policeman in the Greenwich Village section of the lower west side,
and several holdups and assaults of citizens with blackjacks were outstanding
criminal incidents yesterday.
MEEHAN was shot through the head and killed yesterday afternoon as he slept
beside his wife, Sadie, in their home on the third floor of 452 Warren Street,
in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, by one of five gunmen who fired five shots
at the sleeping couple. The bullet passed through the head of the gang leader,
and then lodged in the shoulder of his wife, who was removed to the Brooklyn
Hospital in a serious condition.
The shooting of MEEHAN is believed by the police to be the outcome of the gang
leader's activity in supplying strike breakers to take the places of employes of
the United Fruit Company on piers along the Hudson and East Rivers who recently
walked out when their demands for more pay were refused. The police also believe
an element of revenge entered into the killing, for MEEHAN was suspected by members
of his own band of criminals of having "double-crossed" a confederate, now awaiting
sentence, when they were on trial last week before Judge ASPINWALL in the Kings
County Court. MEEHAN was acquitted of a robbery charge, but his fellow defendant,
Edward GILCHRIST of 23 Bridge Street, Brooklyn, was convicted and is to be sentenced
West Side Gangster Shot
"Red Dan" HOULIHAN, a member of the notorious "Gopher" gang on the lower west side,
was killed by Policeman Abraham MARTLING of the Charles Street Station, after the
policeman detected him and his three companions in the act of stealing two bags of
bread and three cans of milk from in front of the grocery store of Herman KUILCK (?)
at 581 Hudson Street at 5 o'clock in the morning. The policeman fired two shots at
the youths as they were escaping in the taxicab at, but it was not known until
"Red Dan" was found dead in the abandoned taxicab at Sixth Avenue and Thirteenth
Street an hour alter that the policeman knew that any of his shots had found a mark.
- - - - - -
"Dinnie" MEEHAN, as the dead Brooklyn gang leader was more familiarly called, was
awaiting trial on three indictments when he was shot to death. One of them charged
him with participating in the holdup of a man at 5,601 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, and
he was under $5,000 bail on that charge. Another indictment charged him with being
the leader of a band of thieves who stole an automobile truck containing 24 cases of
shoes valued at $10,000 from in front of the factory of HANAN & Son, at Bridge and
Water Streets, Brooklyn, and the third indictment accused him of having directed the
theft of $10,000 worth of silk from a warehouse in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn.
Murderers Push Child Aside.
Yesterday afternoon Mrs. Rose LEIGHTON, mother of Mrs. MEEHAN, was dozing in a
chair in the kitchen, adjoining the bedroom of her son-in-law. Over near the stove,
on the side of the room and within four feet of the door leading to his parents' bedroom,
her grandson was playing with an improvised hobbyhorse. The door leading from the hall
outside the MEEHAN apartment was closed, and the MEEHAN apartment was closed, and
neither Mrs. LEIGHTON nor the child knew that five men were in the apartment until
the leader of the murder band attempted to step over young Dennison on his way to the
room occupied by the sleeping couple.
"Don't go in there," admonished the boy. "My papa and mama are asleep and you'll wake them."
"No, we won't," said the leader of the five gunmen, as he playfully patted the little
fellow on the head, "we just want to look in."
The boy started to run into the room ahead of the five men, when one of them gently
pushed him aside and told him not to make a noise or he'd displease his parents.
Mrs. LEIGHTON continued to sleep during the brief conversation between the gunmen
and the child, and before the boy could arouse her there was a volley of pistol
shots in the bedroom followed almost immediately by the screams of Mrs. MEEHAN.
Her mother jumped out of her chair and started to run toward her daughter's room,
when the five men came hurrying out of the bedroom and before Mrs. LEIGHTON could
get a good look at them they bolted through the door leading to the hall and
disappeared down the stairs.
Frank GIORDANO and Alexander CAMPBELL, tenants in the house, were standing at the
entrance to the building when the five gunmen jumped off an automobile truck. As
the men passed into the hallway of the building they smilingly commented on the weather.
It was not until they had escaped in the automobile truck, however, that the two tenants
knew that they had called to kill the gang leader, and then they informed the police
that one of the men had driven the automobile truck through Warren Street, and disappeared
through Nevins Street.
Victim Had Many Enemies
Captain COUGHLIN, head of the Brooklyn Detective Bureau, said the MEEHAN was
known to be a marked man among criminals along the Brooklyn waterfront, and for a
long time the police expected to hear of his being killed for the shooting and killing
of Chris MARONEY, a leader of a band of criminals who made their rendezvous in the
Navy Yard section of Brooklyn. MEEHAN was arrested seven years ago for the shooting of
MARONEY, and after a sensational trial, he was acquitted. He had previously served time
in Elmira Reformatory, the Penitentiary on Blackwell's Island and the Workhouse, but it
was his boast that he never would be sent to State's prison.
"MEEHAN unquestionably was the worst criminal in Brooklyn," declared Captain COUGHLIN.
"He was feared by other criminals, for it was commonly known among them that he never
threatened to harm a man unless he was prepared to make good. We expect to arrest his
murderers, because he had so many enemies in the underworld in Brooklyn, the identity of
the men who participated in his murder "soon will become known."
New York Times
9 August 1920, pg 5
2 HELD IN GILL MURDER
Alleged Members of "White Hand Gang" Arrested on Suspicion
District Attorney LEWIS and detectives in Brooklyn are making every effort to round
up witnesses of the murder of William Francis GILL, 22 years old, of 158 Fourth
Avenue, Brooklyn, who died in the Holy Family Hospital, Brooklyn, on Thursday night.
In connection with the death of GILL, two alleged members of the notorious
"white hand gang" were arraigned in the Flatbush Court before Magistrate DALE on
Saturday. They were held on short affidavits as suspects.
The men are James MERRILL, 32 years of age, of 305 (365?) Fifth Avenue, and
James BURNS, 33 years of age, of 70 Third Avenue, Brooklyn.
Both men, according to Detective PRITTING
of the Bergen Street Station, have police records. They deny all knowledge of the
attack on young GILL, at Butler Street and Fourth Avenue, which resulted in his death
from a fracture of the skull. The detectives have learned that several persons witnessed
the attack and are searching the neighborhood to locate them.
New York Times
18 September 1921, pg 20
FREE POLICEMAN IN DEATH
Culkin Denies Hitting BEHAN With a Blackjack
The Kings County Grand Jury yesterday exonerated Patrolman Daniel CULKIN of the Coney
Island Station of blame for the death of Peter BEHAN of 525 Baltic Street, Brooklyn
on Aug. 7.
CULKIN and BEHAN quarreled that night at Warren and Hoyt Streets, Brooklyn, over an
insult alleged to have been addressed by BEHAN to Mrs. CULKIN. BEHAN was found dead
with CULKIN standing over him, and the policeman was charged with striking him with a
blackjack. CULKIN denied using the weapon and said he had fought only in self-defense.
An autopsy showed that BEHAN was in bad physical condition and the cause of death was
not the blows received in the fight. CULKIN waived immunity and told his story to the
New York Times
25 September 1921
PLEADS GUILTY TO ASSAULT
Brooklyn Man Beat His Victim With a Baseball Bat.
Joseph BEHAN of 468 Warren Street, Brooklyn, a brother of the late Peter BEHAN, who
died during an alleged altercation with Patrolman Daniel CULKIN, pleaded guilty
yesterday before County Judge MARTIN in Brooklyn to attempted assault in the second degree.
BEHAN was alleged to have beaten Charles JONES of 545 Warren Street at Baltic Street
and Third Avenue, May 30 last, with a baseball bat. JONES said the attack was without
provocation on his part. According to the police BEHAN has served two terms for assault.
Patrolman CULKIN was exonerated in the death of Peter BEHAN.
New York Times
16 May 1922, pg 9
GANGSTER IS SHOT, LIKE CHIEF, IN BED
Brooklyn Member of Once Notorious White Hand Band Believed Third Victim of Feud
Joseph BEHAN, 31 years old, known to the Brooklyn police as a member of the once
notorious White Hand gang, was shot early yesterday morning while in bed in his
home at 468 Warren Street, Brooklyn. His assailant escaped. Mrs. BEHAN was asleep
with her three children, two boys and a girl, in an adjoining room and did not hear
the shooting, she told the police of the Butler Street Station, but was awakened
by the moans of her husband.
BEHAN was removed, dying, to the Holy family Hospital, where it was found he
had been shot under the heart. He was told that his condition was critical, but
would give no information to Detective James CUNNINGHAM of the Butler Street Station
about his assailant. He said his assailant was a "perfect stranger" to him. The
detective believes that BEHAN was shot as a result of an old gang grudge. BEHAN was
recently released from prison after serving a term for felonious assault.
Mrs. BEHAN said that her husband came home shortly after midnight yesterday. She left
the basement door unlocked, as customary when her husband was out late. When BEHAN
came home he went to bed partially dressed and forgot to lock the basement door,
he said. He said he had just fallen asleep when he was awakened by a stranger beside
his bed. He grappled with him for a minute before he was shot, he said.
The shooting of BEHAN is the third mysterious attack laid to a gang feud that has
occurred on Warren Street in two years. A year ago BEHAN's brother, Peter, also well
known to the police was killed in a row. Policeman Daniel CULKIN, who was arrested
in connection with that attack, was exonerated.
On April 1, 1920, Dennis MEEHAN, a White Hand gang chief, also was shot and killed
while asleep in his home at 452 (?) Warren Street. The assailant's bullet wounded
Mrs. MEEHAN. The four-year-old son of MEEHAN said he saw four men rush out into the
hallway and escape after his father was shot, but could not describe them accurately.
New York Times
3 May 1923, p 21
ONE KILLED, BROTHER HURT IN GANG FIGHT
Dead Man Found in Brooklyn Saloon Back Room After a Series of Shots
WOUNDED MAN IN CHAIR
Ten Others Had Scurried Away After the Firing, Proprietor Tells Police
Timothy QUILTY, 29 years old, of 688 Lexington Avenue, Brooklyn, an employee of the
Brooklyn Post Office, was shot dead in the rear room of a saloon at 112 York Street,
Brooklyn, last night. His brother, James QUILTY, 30 years old, of 183 Schermerhorn
Street, was found sitting in the same room semi-conscious. His head was badly
bruised and there was a large knife wound over his left eye. In his pocket the
police found a revolver, five chambers of which were empty.
The shooting is thought to have been the result of a clash between the old Jay
Street gang and the White Hand gang, left leaderless by the death of Garry BARRY
nearly a year ago. The police are hunting for the leader of the Jay Street gang.
Thomas SAND, proprietor of the saloon, told the police that twelve men entered
his place shortly before 9 o'clock. They had been in there only a short time, he
said, when they began a heated argument. Several of them moved into a private room
in the rear and others followed. The argument became louder, SAND said, and then
there was a series of pistol shots and men scurried out of the salon by all doors.
SAND said that when he entered the back room he found Timothy QUILTY on the floor.
Patrolman Thomas MITCHELL was standing at Front and Jay Streets when Mrs. Mary SAND,
wife of the saloonkeeper, rushed up to him and cried, "Help, a gang is murdering
my husband." MITCHELL hurried to the saloon, which he found empty, save for SAND
who was leaning over the dead man, and James QUILTY, who was sitting motionless
in a chair.
A physician who was summoned found that one bullet had struck Timothy QUILTY in the
back of the head and two in the left breast.
James QUILTY was revived and questioned by detectives, but seemed unable to give any
coherent account of what had taken place. The gun found in his coat pocket, led to
his arrest on a charge of violation of the Sullivan act. The police believe that the
weapon was placed in QUILTY's pocket by the murderer before he left the saloon.
New York Times
30 December 1921
MATERIAL WITNESS STATUTE RULED VOID
Justice BENEDICT Releases Three Persons Jailed to Insure Their Testifying.
MAY BE AID TO CRIMINALS
Prosecutors Say Ruling of Unconstitutionality
Will Allow Transient Witnesses to Depart.
A Supreme court decision which it was believed might have a far-reaching effect
on the operation of the criminal law in this State was handed down by Justice
BENEDICT yesterday in Brooklyn, when he released a man and two women who had been
held in $10,000 bail each as material witnesses in a murder case.
The detention of the trio, David and Mrs. Mary MALONEY and Mrs. Sadie REYNOLDS,
followed the stabbing and killing several weeks ago of Garry BARRY who, the police
alleged, was the leader of the "Old White Hand" band of Brooklyn criminals.
Harry REYNOLDS is now awaiting trial in connection with the killing. At the request
of the Brooklyn District Attorney the three witnesses were held in high bail by
Judge MAY in the Kings County Court to insure their presence in court when the
case came to trial. Because of their inability to furnish the bail the witnesses
remained in the Raymond Street Jail until the appearance yesterday of Robert H. ELDER,
their attorney, before Justice BENEDICT in a habeas corpus proceeding.
In his argument for the release of the three witnesses, ELDER told the Court that
Judge MAY held them in bail on a petition signed by a clerk in the office of the
District Attorney LEWIS, which stated that the man and two women were present when
BARRY was killed, and that the petitioner believed they were necessary at the
trial of REYNOLDS as a material witness.
In commenting on the fact that the petition of the clerk merely alleged that the
man and two women were material witnesses, and was considered sufficient on which
to hold them in bail, Justice BENEDICT said:
"That this fails far short of 'proof' is too plain to need argument or the citation
of authority. The present statute permits sureties to be required merely on proof
that the person is a necessary and material witness, without even a hint or suspicion
that they may leave the State or otherwise evade the process of the court.
"This, as I understand the relators' argument, is the ground on which they assert
the statute is unconstitutional - because without any wrong on their part, either
committed or reasonably to be apprehended, they are required to furnish security,
and, being unable by reasons of poverty to do so, are committed to jail.
"No authority has been presented either in this State or elsewhere which holds
that such a statute is constitutional. . . . . ."
New York Times
4 January 1923, pg 20
GUNMAN, FOUND DYING, WON'T NAME ASSAILANT
Friend discovered LOVETT in Room Shot Three Times in His Breast
William LOVETT, 29, a gangster, who has figured in many shootings in Brooklyn,
was found by friend there yesterday in a room on the top floor of a two-story
shanty in the rear of 289 Front Street, with three bullet wounds in his breast.
He was taken to Cumberland Street Hospital where the doctors said last night that
he would die. LOVETT refused to say who shot him. "I got mine," he told Detective
William BROSNAN. "Don't ask me any questions."
John CARR of 116 Bridge Street who had an appointment with LOVETT yesterday found
him lying on a cot in a squalid room and notified the police. Captain John J. SULLIVAN,
Detectives BROSNAN and Owen CARNEY went to LOVETT's room, saw that his condition was
serious and rushed him to the hospital. In LOVETT's room the detectives found a
large number of bottles of "home brew" and a five-gallon still not in operation.
He is a prisoner in the hospital on a charge of violating the Mullan-Gage law.
The police believe that LOVETT is a victim of a gang feud. He recently surrendered
to the police after an absence from his usual haunts of two years following the death
of Dennis MEEHAN, a notorious gangster who was shot and killed while asleep in bed
at his home, 452 Warren Street.
LOVETT has a long police record. He has been arrested fifteen times on charge of
assault, grand larceny, robbery and once for murder. His only conviction was in
1910 for disorderly conduct for which he served a six-month's sentence.
NOTE: LOVETT recovered only to be killed in November 1923
New York Times
9 May 1923
THREE HELD AFTER MURDER
Police Raid Brooklyn Resort in Search for Slayers of QUILTY
William J. LOVETT was arrested in Brooklyn yesterday after a search that began on
May 2, when Timothy QUILTY, an employe of the Post Office, was shot to death in
a rear room at 112 York Street. Later in the day LOVETT, with two others, were
held without bail by Magistrate Mortimer BROWN, in Adams Street Police Court.
LOVETT disappeared after the shooting of QUILTY and evaded the efforts of detectives
under Captain John J. SULLIVAN, to find him. The police received information that
LOVETT was to be found in a resort on Maujer Street. Detectives QUINN, FERRIS,
BRICKLEY and NEGGESMITH went to the place and broke in.
With drawn revolvers the detectives covered the score of more of men in the place
and took them all to the Stagg Street Police Station. All were released except LOVETT and
Walter BIGGIN, 36 of 178 Ainslie Street, and
Richard ABBOTT, 37, of 138 Maujer Street.
When the police entered the Maujer Street place LOVETT was sitting on a chair
leaning his back against the wall. On another chair close by was a fully
LOVETT denied ownership of the revolver and all through denied any knowledge
of the murder of QUILTY. LOVETT was shot three months ago and carries three
bullets in his body.
In addition to the three men arrested yesterday the police are detaining
James QUILTY, a brother of the murdered man, and Thomas FLOOD, a one-armed
veteran of the World War, who were in the room at the time Timothy QUILTY was killed.
New York Times
27 May 1923
THIRD MAN KILLED IN GANG VENDETTA
Seven Now Under Arrest in Connection with Three Murders Since May 2.
FALLS TO ESCAPE BULLETS
Strategy of Friend of Last Victim Saves His Life, but
He is Held for Another Shooting
For the third time within a month the vendetta existing between rival gangs in
the downtown section of Brooklyn broke out yesterday morning in the killing of
James MARTIN of 162 Sands Street. MARTIN was shot at the corner of Nassau and
Gold Streets shortly before 3 o'clock in the Cumberland Street Hospital. The
police have in custody Frank BYRNE of 489 Hudson Avenue, who was with MARTIN
at the time of the shooting, and seven others arrested in a club near-by.
The epidemic of killings started on May 2, when Timothy QUILTY was shot and
killed in a saloon on York Street. Last Monday Frank HEALY was killed at Jay
and Plymouth Streets, a few blocks from the scene of the QUILTY murder.
William LOVETT, known to the police as the leader of a band of thugs, was taken
into custody after each shooting, only to be released later. According to the
police QUILTY was an enemy of LOVETT's, while HEALY was his friend.
Frank BYRNE is known by the police to be unfriendly to LOVETT. The police
believe that LOVETT's followers blamed him for the death of HEALY. MARTIN was a
friend of BYRNE's and not mixed up with any gang. As MARTIN and BYRNE passed the
corner of Nassau and Gold Streets there was a fusillade of shots. BYRNE threw
himself to the ground. MARTIN tried to run. The gunmen seeing him fall, and
believing they had already accounted for BYRNE, ran away.
BYRNE was saved by his strategy. He helped MARTIN to a near-by firehouse, where
Policeman CREHAN of the Poplar Street Station summoned an ambulance and
placed BYRNE under arrest. He was later charged with murder for the death of HEALY.
Detectives who were soon on the scene under Captain John J. SULLIVAN heard
noises at 226 Nassau Street, the home of the Brownie Club. They forced the
door of the place and found fifteen men in various stages of intoxication
from home-brew. Among them was LOVETT, who tried to escape by climbing over a
fence in the yard in the rear of the place. He gave up when he saw Captain
SULLIVAN's revolver pointed at him.
The men were taken to the Poplar Street Station. Among them was "Peg-Leg" Richard
LONERGAN, whose mother shot and killed her husband, John LONERGAN, last week. After
being questioned by the detectives, BYRNE, LOVETT and six others were held on a
charge of murder. BYRNE being held for the death of HEALY and the six others for
the death of MARTIN. The police could not find no witnesses to the shooting, but
they did find a .45 calibre revolver, which they believe figured in the shooting.
The weapon was picked up in the street and turned over to the police.
New York Times
28 May 1923 pg 17
8 HELD AFTER TWO KILLINGS
Brooklyn Men Will Be Heard Tomorrow on Homicide Charges
Eight men were held without bail yesterday in the Adams Street Court by Magistrate
WALSH for hearing tomorrow on charges of homicide in connection with the shooting
of James MARTIN, alleged gangster, of 162 Sands Street, Brooklyn, early Saturday,
in the front of the Browne [Brownie] Club, 226 Nassau Street, Brooklyn and of
Frank HEALY, address unknown, killed last Monday at Jay and Plymouth Streets, Brooklyn.
Bill LOVETT, alleged gang leader, and Richard
LONERGAN were held in connection with the MARTIN murder.
Frank BYRNE of 489 Hudson Avenue, Brooklyn, was charged with the HEALY murder.
The five others, all of Brooklyn, were charged with homicide in connection with
the MARTIN murder. They are
Michael CUNEEN, 239 (230 ?) Park Avenue;
James MAYOR, 217 Hudson Avenue;
George KEATING, 96 Second Avenue;
James CAREY, 147 Milton Street, and
Joseph CAMPBELL, 207 Tillary Street.
New York Times
2 November 1923
BILL LOVETT SLAIN; EX-GANG MATE HELD
Leader of Brooklyn Gunmen Found With Skull Crushed and Two Bullets in Body.
HE HAD BEEN ON A SPREE
Wife Says Erstwhile Underworld Terror Fell
From Grace After Three Months of Sobriety.
Scarcely three months from the time that he promised his bride that he
would "keep straight" William (Bill) LOVETT, 29, erstwhile leader of a
gang of gunmen and thorn in the side of the Brooklyn police, fell from
grace. The fall proved fatal. Yesterday morning after a carousal of two
days he was found dead in the rear of a store at 25 Bridge Street. His
head had been crushed and there were two bullet wounds in the neck.
The place where the body of the slain gangster was found is used by an
association of dock loaders. The doors are seldom locked. The place was
littered with shovels, crowbars, picks, hammers and hoisting tackle. On
the floor, face downward, lay LOVETT. There was no sign of a struggle
and it has not yet been determined whether he died from the bullet wounds
or from a fracture of the skull. No weapon with which the crime might
have been committed was found.
Detectives under Captain Daniel CAREY yesterday brought to Police Headquarters
Joseph FLYNN of 72 North Elliott Place said to have formerly been associated
with LOVETT in the days when his work was the only law Brooklyn gunmen obeyed.
FLYNN admitted he spent most of Wednesday with LOVETT and that both he and
the murdered man had been drinking heavily. He said they ended their spree in
the rooms of the Dock Loaders' Club and that LOVETT fell asleep there. FLYNN
stated he went home and left LOVETT in the place. After being questioned by
Assistant District Attorney Edward WYNNE, FLYNN was arrested in connection
with the slaying and was charged with homicide.
Policeman James RYAN of the Poplar Street Station was passing the Bridge Street
address shortly after 8 A.M. yesterday when he noticed the door open. He
investigated. In the rear room he discovered the body of LOVETT.
It is the theory of the police that the person or persons who killed LOVETT
lay in wait in the yard in the rear of the store. They believed that the shot
which penetrated his neck was fired from the yard, and that the killers
climbed through the window and beat LOVETT over the head with a blunt instrument
after he was shot. An ambulance surgeon who examined the body said LOVETT
had been dead for five or six hours. This would fix the time of the murder
at about 2 or 3 A.M.
Detectives could locate no person who would admit having heard shots fired.
Several persons, however, told of hearing two men climb the fire escape of the
building during the night and after gaining the roof of 25 Bridge Street, exit
by way of the adjoining building at 23. From these reports the detectives believe
that two or more men figured in the killing.
Mrs. Anna LOVETT, wife of the ex-gangster, told the police how her husband had
broken his promise to stay sober. Mrs. LOVETT is the daughter of Mrs. Mary LONERGAN,
who was acquitted last June after a trial for shooting and killing her husband,
John LONERGAN. The wedding of Anna and LOVETT took place in July, the day after
a jury disagreed on the questions of LOVETT's ownership of a revolver found in a saloon.
Mrs. LOVETT told the police that shortly after their marriage she and "Bill"
moved to 60 Wyant Avenue, Ridgefield Park, N. J. "Bill," according to Mrs.
LOVETT, promised never to drink again and gave up his bad associates in Brooklyn.
He was so determined in his promises that he told Captain CAREY he was through
with the "old days" and was "going straight" in future.
Everything went well, Mrs. LOVETT said, until Tuesday morning. The former terror
of the Brooklyn underworld left home, telling her that he was going to work,
instead she learned afterward he went to Brooklyn and met some of his old cronies.
When he did not return Tuesday evening Mrs. LOVETT became worried. On Wednesday
she learned he was in a saloon near the scene of the murder. Yesterday Mrs.
LOVETT went to the saloon at York and Jay Streets, Brooklyn, and was informed
that her husband had been slain. She collapsed.
When 15, LOVETT fell into the hands of the police. Sixteen times he was taken
into custody, but only once was he found guilty and that on a charge of disorderly
conduct. For that offense he served his only jail sentence, fifteen days. The crimes
that he was charged with ranged from petty larceny to murder.
LOVETT served in the army during the World War. In February, 1922, he was found with
six bullet wounds in him. The police believed friends of "Danny" MEEHAN, murdered
rival gang leader, shot him at that time, but LOVETT would not disclose the
identity of his assailants.
New York Times
27 December 1925 pg 26
THREE OF GANG SLAIN AT BROOKLYN DANCE
Leader of the "White Hand" Band and two Alleged Aids Shot Mysteriously in Crowd
POLICE SEEK RIVAL LEADER
None at the Cabaret Will Tell of Firing - Thought to Fear Reprisals by Slayers
Richard ("Pegleg") LONERGAN, leader of South Brooklyn's notorious "White Hand"
gang, and two of his alleged henchmen were shot to death early yesterday on the
dance floor of the Adonis Social Club, a cabaret in a ramshackle two-story frame
structure at 154 Twentieth Street, Brooklyn. James HART, another member of
LONERGANS's party of six men who entered the cabaret together, is a prisoner in
Cumberland Street Hospital, Brooklyn, with a bullet in his thigh. He is charged
with suspicion of homicide in the death of three of his companions.
Although witnesses have told the police of the Fifth Avenue Station, Brooklyn,
that twenty or more persons were in the dance hall when the shooting started,
no one has been found who would admit he saw anybody fire even one of the seven
bullets. This reticence, it is believed, is due to fear or revenge by gangsters.
Despite the charge against HART, the police, it was learned last night, are
searching for members of a rival gang who, they have been informed, occupied
one of the dozen or more tables in the dance hall when LONERGAN and his friends
entered. Precautions have been to guard against the admitted probability of a
serious gang war as a result of the death of the "White Hand" leader and his
alleged aide. The other two men who were killed were Neils (Needles) FERRY of
203 Taafe Place, Brooklyn, and Aaron HARMS of 432 Putnam Avenue, Brooklyn.
One witness told the police that the members of LONERGANS's party were intoxicated
and had entered the cabaret arguing about the brother of one being able to
"lick the whole bunch single-handed." Then the shooting "just started," this man
said, and the lights went out. From another source, which they would not divulge,
the police said they had learned that members of another gang occupied a table in
the dance hall when LONERGAN and his party entered and that the shooting had been
started, if not done altogether by the unnamed gang members. The leader of this
gang is known by name and reputation to the police, however, and it was he for
whom they began search late yesterday, it was rumored.
The dance hall furnished mute but puzzling testimony of the encounter. At first
glance the overturned tables - only one remained upright - the shattered drinking
glasses and smashed window panes seemed to indicate that the battle must have
been hard fought and long drawn out. Apparently in contradiction of this evidence,
however, were four fully loaded pistols, one in the vest of LONERGAN, who lay
upon the floor, his hand close to the handle of his weapon as if he had been
attempting to draw after he had been shot down. Between his lips was a fresh
Almost under the body of HARMS, which lay alongside that of the gang leader, was
another pistol with a cartridge in each of its chambers. Two other loaded pistols
were found behind the piano. From these and other bits of evidence the police
constructed the theory that LONERGAN and his friends were shot by rival gangsters
before they had a chance to defend themselves, although it is also suspected that
the LONERGAN party went to the cabaret to "get" some member or members of another gang.
This theory was strengthened by the fact that the body of FERRY, when found by
Policeman Richard MORANO of the Fifth Avenue Station, lay in the gutter almost
directly in front of the Adonis Club, while across the sidewalk from the club
entrance was a bloodstain, which indicated that the body had been dragged from
the club to the gutter. This, it was said, pointed to the likelihood that some
one in the club had pulled FERRY's body out of the building.
Although the music in the cabaret ceased suddenly and much earlier than usual,
and although it must have been succeeded quickly by a fusillade of shots and the
sound of crashing glass and falling tables, members of a family occupying the
flat on the second story of the Adonis Social Club building said they heard nothing
unusual during the early morning hours and did not know anything out of the
ordinary had occurred.
Patrolman MORANO, passing the club about 3:30 A.M. yesterday, saw a man in the
gutter. Then in the dance hall he found the bodies of LONERGAN and HARMS.
Patrolman Thomas McGRATH, of the Clymer Street Station, Brooklyn, said he found
HART crawling on his hands and knees on Flushing Avenue near Throop Avenue. As
the patrolman approached, HART collapsed and did not regain consciousness until
just before reaching the hospital.
HART told the hospital authorities, they said, that he had been standing on a
corner where he collapsed when shots were fired by an automobile party of
Christmas revelers. One of these shots, he declared, had wounded him. Not
satisfied with this story, detectives of the Fifth Avenue station took to the
hospital several persons who had admitted having seen LONERGAN and his friends
enter the cabaret. These persons, the detectives said, identified HART as a
member of the LONERGAN party.
The two unhurt members of LONERGAN's party were later taken into custody and
held for questioning. No criminal charge has been made against them up to late
last night. They were Patrick (Happy) MALONEY of 357 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn,
and Joseph HOWARD of 42 Times Place, Bayville, L. I. Detective William BRONSON
[sic - BROSNAN], who brought in these three men, said they admitted to Inspector
SULLIVAN and others that they entered the cabaret with LONERGAN, but declared
that soon after the LONERGAN party had seated themselves the lights went out and
the shooting started. They ran from the place, they said.
Others detained for questioning at the Fifth Avenue Station yesterday were
Miss Helen LOGAN of 524 State Street, Brooklyn, one of the Adonis Social Club's
cabaret entertainers; Mrs. May WILSON of 715 Third Avenue, Brooklyn, who said
she was in the cabaret as a guest of Jack (Stickem) STABILE, who the police
allege is one of the owners of the club, and miss Olga CALLAHAN, of Marion Street,
Brooklyn, a hat check girl in the cabaret.
New York Times
28 December 1925
SEVEN HELD IN MURDERS
Round-Up Follows Killing of Three Gunmen in Adonis Club
Seven men, one in the Cumberland Street Hospital, are held on charges of homicide
in connection with the murder of "Peg Leg" LONERGAN, Neil (Needles) FERRY and
Aaron HEINS [or HARMS] in the Adonis Social Club, 152 Twentieth Street, Brooklyn,
early Saturday morning. Three girls who were in the club when the shooting
started were questioned but were released. They are Mrs. Mae WILSON of
715 Third Avenue, Miss Elvira CALLAHAN, 353 Marion Street, and Miss Helen LOGAN
of 524 State Street.
Six of the men were arraigned yesterday in the Fifth Avenue Court and were
held without bail by Magistrate HAUBERT for a hearing tomorrow morning.
Anthony DESSO, assistant bartender in the club;
Jack MALONEY, John STABILE, one of the proprietors;
Joe HOWARD, a singer in the club;
Sylvester AGOGLIA and Alphonse CAPONE of 377 Eighteenth Street, doorman in the club.
The seventh man is James HART of 856 Bedford Avenue.
He is in Cumberland Hospital suffering from bullet wounds in the right leg and ear.
New York Times
1 January 1926 pg 8
THREATENS TO SHOOT PRISONER IF FREED
Woman Telephones to Court as Nine are Arraigned in the LONERGAN Killing
The Homicide Court in Brooklyn became a very busy place yesterday following
the receipt of a telephone message at the Empire Boulevard Police Station
from an unidentified woman that "If Jack MALONEY is freed he will be shot
dead on the court house steps."
MALONEY, known as "Happy," was one of the nine men arraigned before Magistrate
Francis A. McCLOSKEY on a charge of killing Richard (Peg Leg) LONERGAN and his
two companions in the Adonis Club on Twentieth Street last week.
An application by the District Attorney's office for an adjournment was opposed
by Attorney Samuel LIEBOWITZ, and after some discussion Magistrate McCLOSKEY
dismissed the charges of murder and discharged the prisoners.
As the men stepped out of the court room they were arrested again and taken to
the Fifth Avenue court, where they were charged with felonious assault in the
shooting of James HART, who is under arrest at the Cumberland Street Hospital,
recovering from a bullet wound. All were held without bail until tomorrow for
Matthew MARTIN of 734 Myrtle Avenue, a brother-in-law of Richard LONERGAN, was
arraigned yesterday in the Bridge Plaza Court before Magistrate David HIRSHFELD
and held without bail on a charge of assault and robbery and possession of a pistol.
Arraigned with MARTIN was Frank GERVASTO, 24 years old, also of 734 Myrtle Avenue.
New York Times
5 November 1928
Brooklyn Gang Leader is Slain by Four Rivals Soon After Winning Title by Throw of Dice
Edward McGUIRE, Brooklyn dock loader and waterfront gangster achieved his ambition
and found his end in the same turn of the dice last night. For a brief two or three
minutes as the white cubes rolled into the light, a three and a four up, he ruled
over Brooklyn gangdom. A moment later he lay face down on the dock in the shadow of
Brooklyn Bridge as four disappointed rivals, their pistols still in the hands,
ran from the pier to safety in the dark, winding streets of the waterfront.
McGUIRE, the police of the Poplar Street Station say, was the tenth man to lose
his life in the struggle for the leadership of the old Bill LOVETT gang. LOVETT,
who ruled supreme on the Brooklyn docks for years, was the first. Others envied
LOVETT's power, and one morning four years ago he was found with his skull crushed
and two bullet wounds in his body. Since then various aspirants for the leadership
of the gang have arisen. Some have for a brief time achieved it; others have
merely coveted it, but all have met the same end.
McGUIRE, who was 26 years old and lived at 148 Pearl Street, Brooklyn, was a
lieutenant and righthand man in the days of LOVETT, according to the police.
Ever since LOVETT's death, they say, he had waited to step into the shoes of
his old leader. He had already made himself the leader of a large faction in
the gang, which had been leaderless for some months, and last night his opportunity
McGUIRE, with four other aspirants for the leadership, appeared on Pier 3, the
dock of the Colombia Line at the foot of Main Street. All, according to watchmen
along the pier, had been drinking heavily. The went to the end of the pier,
arguing among themselves and drinking from hip flasks.
Kneeling on the edge of the dock, they threw for the biggest prize in Brooklyn
gangdom and McGUIRE won. A moment later a watchman heard their voices raised in
loud and angry tones. Then there was a volley of shots, four fleeing figures, and
Edward McGUIRE's reign was over.
McGUIRE received two bullets in his chest and one in the abdomen. His body was
identified at the Poplar Street station by his brother William. The dead gangster
had been arrested five times for felonious assault, according the police records,
but had never been convicted.
New York Times
27 December 1929
WARRANT IN GUN THEFT
John RINKACUS Accused of Stealing Eleven Cases
A warrant charging the theft of eleven cases of 16-guage shotguns from the
Folsom Arms Co., 314 Broadway, last Sept. 23 was issued yesterday by Magistrate
Jean NORRIS in the Tombs court for John RINKACUS, 39 years old, of 67 Jay Street,
Brooklyn. RINKACUS is being held in the Raymond Street jail without bail as a
result of a raid at his home nine days ago by detectives who reported they
found some of the shotguns, pistols and considerable ammunition.
The warrant was lodged at the jail by Detectives O'HARA and FIDGEON pending
the disposition of the Sullivan Law charge on which RINKACUS was held in the
Adams Street court after his arrest. The police charged that RINKACUS's home
was the rendezvous of the remnants of the old Bill LOVETT and Legleg
[sic - Peg Leg] LONERGAN gang.
29 January 1930
LOVETT Gang Chief Dies Before "Progress"
"Red" DONNELLY, Too Old Fashioned, Stood in the Way of New Racketeering Methods -
Rival and Three Held
By Wilbur E. Rogers
Because the boys who made up what is left of Bill LOVETT'S old gang of waterfront
workers haven't been able to decide, in six years, who should inherit Bill's
mantle, four men appeared in Homicide Court later today to deny killing
Charlie DONNELLY, who was, it seems, temporary chieftain of the old mob.
Charlie, sometimes known as "Cute Charlie" because he wasn't, or "Red" because
he was, was found sitting in a chair in a shanty at the end of Pier 3,
off Dock St., between Main and Fulton Sts., about 4:30 yesterday afternoon.
He had been drilled twice by bullets from a .38-caliber revolver, and the
case looks as if he walked out to that shanty knowing pretty well that it
was "the spot" for him.
Detectives found Matty MARTIN and arrested him along with James and Cornelius
CLIFFORD and Harry SHIELDS, all members of the only really old-time gang that
is operating anywhere in this great city. Matty and the boys wouldn't talk
except to deny the murder.
They were arraigned before Magistrate HEALY, who held them until Feb. 5 on
a short affidavit charging homicide. The quartet went to jail without bail.
It was recalled, too, that on May 17, 1928, Charlie DONNELLY was in the
same court on the same sort of charge - there in connection with the death
of Eddie McGUIRE, another LOVETT boy. Magistrate HEALY said to Charlie then:
"No one minds if you people shoot yourselves. I'll dismiss the case because
there is no evidence but you'll probably be the next one killed."
The Magistrate was right.
- - - - - - -
Following a mysterious shooting last night at 15th St. and 5th Ave.,
Nathan GORDON, 40, of 1648 Topping Ave., the Bronx, died this morning in
New York Hospital, and a general alarm was sent out for an unidentified man,
about 26 years old, who darted across the street immediately after the shooting
and escaped pursuers.
GORDON was seated in a parked sedan on the east side of the avenue when
passersby heard shots. One bullet entered GORDON's lung and the other
grazed his upper lip. Questioned by police before he died, GORDON said his name
was "John Doe" and refused to name his assailant. His identity was obtained by
tracing the car in which he was shot.
GORDON had a long record of crime including several grand larceny and robbery convictions.
- - - - - -
DONNELLY was 51, an old-timer in the gang who knew little or nothing about "rackets."
He inherited the LOVETT mantle at the point of a blazing gun and conducted the gang's
affairs along old lines. He had been content to stage a raid now and then on some
pier along the East River. He had gotten his tribute by making drivers of freight
wagons "cut in" for protection they didn't need, in driving onto the piers. He
had been willing to shake down stevedores. All these things were sources of
tribute for him and he was happy in knocking down $500 or $600 a week.
Didn't Know the "Rackets"
"Red's" trouble was that all the other old-timers of the LOVETT gang had been
killed and "Red" stood almost alone in his desire to continue business at the
old stand and not to branch out. He knew nothing about racketeering and had no
idea of how a gang should be led if it broke into the bootlegging game. Yet the
East River front was a fertile spot for a bootlegger.
Other gang leaders looked avidly at it, but they admitted that DONNELLY had it
pretty well sewed up. The story is that a certain notorious leader from Bay
Ridge began to sift some of his men into the old LOVETT gang, intent on having
them grab the power from DONNELLY and turn it over. It was a deep-laid scheme,
this one - and if it worked, the Bay Ridge leader would find himself in control
of all of Brooklyn's waterfront, because he already had strong affiliations
up beyond the Navy Yard.
But DONNELLY stuck to the old-fashioned methods. Yesterday afternoon six men
quarreled about the "cut" in the day's profits. Under ordinary conditions
there never would have been a fight, but most of the boys who have been wording
with "Red" recently were young men who figured that it would be a lot better
if a younger man was leader of the gang, provided that that young man would
listen to reason in the matter of branching out.
The quarrel stopped, but about 4 o'clock a youngster slouched into the shanty
and told DONNELLY two men wanted to see him at the ____?__ of the pier. The men
were in a motorcar, he said.
"Yeah," remarked "Red." "Maybe they want to take me for a ride."
They didn't. Instead, one of the two men, a stranger to others who were standing
around the pier, walked back to the shanty with "Red" and a few moments later
strolled out alone. Very probably he used a silencer on his gun.
Half an hour later, John F. KERWIN, manager of the Columbia Stevedore Company,
went to the shanty to use a telephone. He found the body of the ancient, chieftain -
ancient as gang leaders in this man's town go - and notified the police.
Bill BROSNAN, detective from the Poplar St. station, who knows more about the
East River gangs and troubles than any one else in the city, sent a couple of
younger detectives on an errand. They went out to grab Matty MARTIN.
Matty is one of the very few veterans of the LOVETT regime who has remained in
the crowd. But he is progressive. He wanted to join with the Bay Ridge outfit
and make some real money. And Matty wanted the leadership of the LOVETT gang,
principally because he thought he rated it by right of succession.
There once was an influential member of the LOVETT outfit named Richard LONERGAN,
sometimes called "Peg Leg." He was one of the most famous of Brooklyn underworld
"Peg Leg" had a sister, Anna, a beautiful much sought after girl, who married
Bill LOVETT. "Peg Leg" went down in a blaze of shooting one night in 20th St.,
a fact which did not particularly concern Anna and her husband. Then LOVETT
"got it" in a shack down in Red Hook. Anna was a widow and she married the
same Matty MARTIN who is now under arrest in the DONNELLY murder.
So Matty felt that having married the sister of "Peg Leg" and the widow of
Bill LOVETT himself, he ought to rate power in the gang. He never has been
able to make it, however, for DONNELLY grabbed the control two years ago on
the very next pier to that on which he was himself killed.
Some of the boys shot dice for the leadership. DONNELLY and Matty MARTIN were
both in the game according to the police. A youth named Eddie McGUIRE, or
Eddie MARTIN - no relation to Matty - won the game and for exactly 5 minutes
he was leader of the LOVETT gang. Then two pistols spoke and Eddie was left
on the pier dead. They arrested both DONNELLY and MARTIN and got nothing.
That list, however, is by no means all of the list of dead in the LOVETT gang.
Dan HEALY was killed on the waterfront because he tried to grab the leadership
after Cinders CONNOLLY had held it for a month or so. Cinders died on the
gangplank of a steamship.
There were others, too, all of lesser importance. There was Bill RAYCRAFT,
Denny [Dinny] MEEHAN, Eddie HUGHES, Mickey GILLIGAN, Bill LYNCH, Mickey KANE -
all of them got it at one time or another, because this LOVETT gang has always
maintained the old-times rules of gang warfare.
"Hootch gets most of 'em," says Bill BROSNAN. "They are all nice and quiet
boys until they get to drinking. They never bother anyone off the waterfront
and they never have caused much real trouble. They get to drinking and begin
to think they are big. Then somebody gets bumped off.
"The LOVETT gang is and always was just a gang of wild boys who are petty
thieves and very little more. Now that big money has come into the underworld
through bootlegging and dope racketeering, some of them have become ambitious.
Trouble is in the air."
That quotation is put into this story because it was made two weeks ago,
long before "Red" DONNELLY was put on the "spot."
DONNELLY lived with his wife and two children at 250 Ralph Ave. It was Mrs.
DONNELLY who identified her husband's body. Then she joined Mrs. Anna
LONNERGAN MARTIN and went to police headquarters to talk with Matty, whose
home is at 179 Marion St.
New York Times
29 January 1930
DOCK GANG LEADER SLAIN FROM AMBUSH
"Red" DONNELLY, Who Himself Had Been Held in 5 Murders, Shot Dead at Brooklyn Pier.
REVENGE KILLER HUNTED
Police Link Case to Deaths of "Wild Bill" LOVETT and Eddie MARTIN Whom He Succeeded.
HE LEVIED ON SHIP LOADERS
Score or More Have Died in Fight to Control Tribute and Gambling In Red Hook Section.
Charles (Red) DONNELLY, 50 years old, racketeer in the Red Hook and Erie Basin
districts of Brooklyn, was shot to death at 5 o'clock last night on the Colombian
Line pier at the foot of Main Street, Brooklyn. His passing adds another name to
the long list of those who have tried to assume the leadership left vacant when
bullets ended the careers of Garry BARRY and Dinny MEEHAN, waterfront leaders.
The fight for control of dock loading privileges and Saturday dice games on the
Brooklyn piers has cost many other lives.
Among those who have met violent deaths in the struggle for power were
Wild Bill LOVETT,
Eddie MARTIN, and now Red DONNELLY.
Police Inspector HUGHS and Detective William BROSNAN, known as Gole Toof along
Hudson Avenue, the hangout of negro criminals, are investigating the shooting
of DONNELLY. They know the history of the gang more thoroughly than any one
else in the department, and it is understood that they see a link between
the murder of DONNELLY and that of Eddie MARTIN.
Laughed When Warned of Plot.
BROSNAN said yesterday that he had heard rumors along the docks that there
was a move afoot to have DONNELLY "put on the spot. He spoke to DONNELLY
about it only two weeks ago when he encountered him on the waterfront.
"I've been hearing things, Red," he told the gangster. "You'd better lay
off. It's in the cards that they'll get you some time."
DONNELLY laughed just as he had laughed eighteen months ago when Magistrate
HEALY was compelled to free him of a murder charge in Homicide Court,
where he was arraigned for the murder of MARTIN. The magistrate, nettled
by the lack of evidence, said in dismissing the case:
"Go out and keep up the good work. Shoot each other all you want to, and
the sooner we get rid of gang leaders in Brooklyn the better it will be
for the police and for the people."
Things were quiet for a time, with only a little sporadic shooting along
the waterfront. Last night DONNELLY was watching the loaders at work, for
therein lay his graft, when some one came up to him and said:
"You're wanted down on the pier."
DONNELLY walked down the pier and into a checker's booth to see who wanted
him. As he stepped in two shots were heard. When the dock workers got to
the booth DONNELLY was dead, with one bullet in his left temple and another
in his left ear. The gunmen were gone.
Inspector SULLIVAN and Detective BROSNAN were on the pier within a half
hour and rounded up several of the loaders to take to the Poplar Street
precinct for questioning.
The net result, as usual, was unanimous denial by all the witnesses that
they knew anything about the slaying. They heard the shots, of course,
but they had seen nothing. Following routine, the police began using the
process of elimination in their hunt for the murderers, but the records
of the past prove how futile this must be.
Held Five Times for Murder.
DONNELLY during his long career as a "hard guy" on the docks, living on
tribute exacted from the hardworking foreigners who unload the big freighters,
was himself arraigned on five separate charges of murder and beat every one.
He was questioned in at least five other homicides.
The same thing was held true for all the other shootings in the "dockwallopers"
feud. Dinny MEEHAN was killed while he slept in his home in Baltic Street.
Garry BARRY stepped up to claim the leadership of the White Hand Gang, but
his reign was short.
"Wild Bill" LOVETT, home from the war with the S. S. C. started the invasion
of Irishtown leaders. He took things over on the waterfront and seemed to
have things fairly well under control when he married Anna LONERGAN in the
Fall of 1923. It was a true Red Hook romance. Bill was out on the bail on a
murder charge and Anna's mother had just been acquitted of killing her husband,
"Peg-Leg" LONERGAN. [this is an error, Peg-Leg was her son - it was her husband,
John, she was accused of murdering]
Three months later LOVETT was slain in the dock-loaders' hangout in the rear
of a store at 25 Bridge Street. "The boys" sent the biggest and most colorful
wreaths they could find and LOVETT was buried with military honors.
The widow married Matty MARTIN, another Red Hook boy, and they set up
housekeeping in a quiet part of the borough. One night in August, 1924,
as she was walking with her new husband, some one fired a few hasty shots
at them, slightly wounding both.
Eddie MARTIN died in May, 1928. DONNELLY and three others were picked up,
but the police could not fasten the shooting on them. DONNELLY, his red
hair turning gray, remained a power on the piers.
Matty MARTIN continued to be a friend of DONNELLY's despite the shooting
of his brother, according to the police; but Inspector SULLIVAN and Detective
BROSNAN were looking for MARTIN and his wife last night for questioning.
Mrs. Olive SMITH DONNELLY of 232(?) Ralph Avenue, widow of the murdered
gangster, and her brother John SMITH of the same address identified the body.
Four dockworkers were arrested for the shooting last night after they had
been questioned for hours. They are
Matty MARTIN of 179 Marion Street,
Cornelius CLIFFORD of 137 Bay Fifty-first Street, his brother,
James CLIFFORD of 612 Monroe Street, and
Henry SHIELDS of 110 Madison Street, all of Brooklyn.
They will be arraigned today on charges of homicide.
New York Times
30 January 1930, p. 11
8 SEIZED IN SLAYING OF 'RED' DONNELLY
Police Move to End Reign of Gang Levying Tribute on Brooklyn Piers.
JAIL VICTIM's SUCCESSOR
Detectives Charge Leader Was Killed Because Gunmen Found Him "Too Conservative"
The titular leadership of Brooklyn's waterfront racketeers returned to the
LOVETT's yesterday, after the killing on Tuesday night of Charles (Red)
DONNELLY, when the dock gangs acknowledged as the chieftain Matty MARTIN,
husband of Bill LOVETT's widow, the notorious Anna LONERGAN. The fact that
MARTIN, with seven others, is in jail charged with the slaying of DONNELLY,
most recent of LOVETT's successors, did not affect the decision of the dock leaders.
Even if MARTIN escapes punishment for the DONNELLY murder, however, he will
be a king without a kingdom, Brooklyn police declared yesterday. The racket
along the docks is over. In jail with MARTIN are seven other dock bosses,
said to constitute the last of the LOVETT gang. If they are freed they will
be kept off the docks, according to the police, and the establishment of any
new regime along the waterfront will be blocked.
Four Held Without Bail
Four men, including MARTIN, were arraigned before Magistrate Leo HEALY
yesterday morning in Brooklyn homicide court. The others are
Cornelius CLIFFORD, 29 years old, 137 Bay Fifty-first Street;
James CLIFFORD, 39, of 612 Monroe Street; and
Henry SHIELDS, 37 of 110 Madison Street, all of Brooklyn.
MARTIN, as their spokesman, asked for time to retain counsel, and they
were sent to Raymond Street jail, held without bail for examination on
Feb. 6. Anna LONERGAN LOVETT MARTIN, whom Matty MARTIN wed a year after
LOVETT's death, was in court and tried without success to reach her
husband's side. A short affidavit charging them with acting on concert
in connection with the death of DONNELLY was read by Detective William KENNA.
Later in the day detectives brought in four more men, completing the
roundup of the gang leaders along the docks. There were
George GIBSON, 29, of 31 Marion Street;
George BLACK, 25, of 180 Fourteenth Street;
John MARTIN, 34, 159 Gelston Avenue; and
William CONNORS, 23, of 169 Bay Fiftieth Street.
They were locked up, and will be arraigned this morning in Homicide Court.
DONNELLY, who was killed while directing a gang of dock workers early
Tuesday night on Pier Three at the foot of Main Street, Brooklyn, was
not progressive enough to suit the rest of the gang, police said yesterday.
DONNELLY "Too Conservative"
The others are younger - Donnelly was 50 years old- and their idea was to
sink the tribute exacted along the docks into newer and more lucrative lines -
liquor and drugs - detectives declared.
DONNELLY, who assumed the leadership when Eddie McGUIRE, LOVETT's successor,
was killed in 1928, was content to collect his due and to contribute a stated
amount regularly to the comfort of those of the gang who had clashed with the
law and were in penitentiaries. The rest he chose to keep for his wife and
two children. His failure to play the game according to the new rules cost
him his life.
Among the eight prisoners are three of the four men who were accused of
the murder of Eddie McGUIRE in 1928. DONNELLY himself was the fourth.
The story was told at the time that these four, with McGUIRE, rolled
the dice on the same pier on which DONNELLY lost his life Tuesday night
to determine who should succeed LOVETT, whose mantle had been fought
over for five years. McGUIRE won, and was found dead with four bullet
wounds in his head and body a few hours later, crumpled beside the dice
which showed a three-four winning combination.
MARTIN, GIBSON and James CLIFFORD were accused with DONNELLY of having
killed McGUIRE. They were dismissed by Magistrate HEALY for lack of evidence.
31 January 1930
Gangs Await Another Death In Dock War
Second Man Believed Marked in Struggle
Police Hold 4 More
By Wilbur E. Rogers
Rumors were rife along the waterfront of Brooklyn today that "the spot" was
being chosen for one other person in the gang war that brought about the
murder of "Red" DONNELLY, for which pretty near all the remains of
"Wild Bill" LOVETT's gang of wharf-rats have been arrested.
Eight men, all boasting police records, are now in custody. The two experts
in waterfront work - Detectives Bill BROSNAN and Bill KENNA - who are heading
the roundup said there was only one more man they wanted, but there are signs
he has "taken it on the lam" to parts unknown.
It was because BROSNAN and KENNA had heard things and read the signs correctly
that they have been able to move so fast in this affair. Both these detectives
knew, two or three weeds ago, that trouble was brewing.
When the break came they were ready. One who knows his gangs realizes that
BROSNAN and KENNA have already done a good bit of underworld work in this murder.
They have, within two days, practically cleaned up the docks of the LOVETT gang.
The old crowd is now either in jail or clearly tabbed in such a way that
none of its members can get back on the piers.
It leaves the dock situation unsettled, of course. But it is no secret that
the young men who shifted into the LOVETT gang for purposes of their own and
who really caused the death of DONNELLY by their insistence that he was too
conservative, too tight-fisted and that maybe he was a double-crosser as well,
have no real leadership. They had relied on one of the old LOVETT mob who
knew the ropes to take charge.
All Barred from Docks
Matty MARTIN, it seems, thought he was to be the new leader once DONNELLY
went out. There are signs, however, that even if the interlopers band together,
MARTIN won't be the chieftain even if he gets out of jail. The detectives,
under instruction from commissioner WHALEN, have decided not to allow any of
the old LOVETT gang to go on the docks at any time. It will be closed area
for them - which means that their power in the shakedowns there will be
diminished. MARTIN's value as a leader of any gang is, accordingly, made
It was whispered last night and today that another man had been marked for death.
No names were given. In fact it was a little difficult to see the situation
clearly, but at the same time word came trickling in from the docks that there
would be another killing in the vicinity as a result of the DONNELLY affair.
It was also fairly clear that the murder of DONNELLY was bungled. There was an
eyewitness to most of it, police say, who was not a member of the gang and not
even an underworld character. He didn't see the actual shooting but he did see
the two men who staged it. This man's identity is being kept hidden by the police
because they are just a little afraid that if it is made public something might
happen to him.
Any such action is entirely foreign to the history of the LOVETT mob, however.
They have never been known to carry their shooting outside the gang. They have
always been free with guns among themselves, and that is exactly why they haven't
prospered as have other gangs.
However, the existence of an eyewitness to the killing is different. It gives
detectives something on which to work and even if they can't get a conviction
of any of the eight prisoners they can spot them all clearly and they have
something to work on in holding them to check later on.
Have Long Police Records
The new quartet of prisoners is almost as sinister as the one first gathered in.
George GIBSON of 31 Marion St., and George BLACK of 180 14th St. were both among
the lot picked up in the Eddie McGUIRE killing. They were both questioned when
Dan HEALY went out, too.
John MARTIN of 159 Gelston Ave. was looked over in both those murders although he
wasn't arrested. William CONNORS of 169 Bay 50th St. is only 19. He is believed to
be one of the young men who drifted into the East River affairs of the LOVETT gang,
at the suggestion of the Bay Ridge gang operator who wanted to "cut" in.
All admitted that they knew DONNELLY, but denied they had been on Pier 3, foot of
Dock St., Tuesday night when he was killed. They also denied they had had any
quarrel with him.
Some of these men will certainly be turned out. The police may never get all the
evidence they need for a conviction, or even to push the case, because that is
one of the major difficulties in handling a gang such as this. Stool pigeons in
the LOVETT gang are unknown. The gang has always been too free with its revolvers
for such gentry to flourish.
The waterfront trouble, along with some other outbreaks of crime in the city,
stirred Commissioner WHALEN. Last night he sent out 135 detectives to renew
those general roundups of criminals which featured the opening of his administration.
The Commissioner doesn't believe that there is a crime wave, but he does believe
that because the detectives have let up a little in their general vigilance, the
criminals have renewed activity.
The newest dragnet was to take effect all over the city. Detectives went to every
boro, and into speakeasies, restaurants, pool rooms and dance halls where criminals
might be found. Their prisoners were to be turned in today.
New York Times
31 January 1930
ANOTHER SHOT DOWN IN DOCK GANG WAR
Jimmy MURRAY, Ex-Convict, is Wounded in Row at Shanty Near Brooklyn Waterfront
NEAR DEATH, BUT SILENT
Attacked for Aspiring to Leadership Left Vacant by Slaying of DONNELLY,
Gangster guns cracked again last night in the Brooklyn dock loaders' war, and
Jimmy MURRAY, 55 years old, old-time yegg and lieutenant of Wild Bill LOVETT,
was left for dead in the Dock Loaders' Rest Room, a dismal shanty at 57 Atlantic Avenue.
MURRAY may die. The detectives told him this last night as they stood around his cot
in Long Island College Hospital, but he turned his bandaged head away and
refused to name the men who had fired at him, sending a bullet into his head.
Even when the priests administered the last rites MURRAY's lips remained sealed.
According to the version of the shooting obtained by the police MURRAY was
shot because he had declared himself "in" on the leadership left vacant two
days ago when bullets ended the career of Charles (Red) DONNELLY, another LOVETT man.
MURRAY, like Red DONNELLY, was one of the old school of bad men in that district.
He saw no wrong in exacting tribute from the hard-working loaders, but he
refused to go in for a little rum-running and dope smuggling as a side line
as the younger element suggested.
Another thing that led to the shooting, the police learned, was MURRAY's
angry tirade against certain members of the gang for their failure to see
that his cigarette and chewing tobacco money came through regularly while he
was finishing his ten-year term in Sing Sing Prison. He got out a few weeks
ago after serving time for breaking open a safe.
One word led to another in the crowded room and the neighbors heard the sound
of violent quarreling. MURRAY got up to declare that he would not only take
over his old leadership in the Smokey Hollow district of the waterfront that
extends from Joralemon Street south to Atlantic Basin, but would also step
into Red DONNELLY's "graft," control of the dock area from Joralemon Street
to Dock Street.
Six shots cracked out and neighbors heard the chairs go over and a tinkling
of breaking glass. About a dozen men ran into the street and scattered, heading
in various directions - some toward the river, some into near-by hallways,
others toward the brighter districts further up the avenue.
When the detectives walked into the Dock Loaders' Rest Room they found MURRAY
stretched out on the floor. Not only had a bullet entered his forehead, but
he had been slashed.
One of the detectives turned off the radio as they waited for the ambulance.
They lifted MURRAY into a chair and tried to question him. He looked into
their familiar faces, Jerry ENGLISH, Michael REILLY, Michael FALVEY, and knew
them all, but no word passed his lips. The policeman turned him over the
ambulance surgeon and started on their hunt along the waterfront for the gunmen.
Nine men have been arrested in the DONNELLY shooting, among them Mattie MARTIN,
the husband of Anna LOVETT LONERGAN. The friends of these nine will be rounded
up and will be questioned about the attack on MURRAY. The police said there was
little doubt that they were responsible for it or could tell who had done it.
7 February 1930
Free Nine Held In Murder of "Red" DONNELLY
No Evidence to Hold Suspects in Slaying of Gang Chief, Prosecutor Says
The nine men arrested for the murder, Jan 29, of Charles "Red" DONNELLY, one
of the leaders of the late Bill LOVETT's gang, were discharged today by Magistrate
MAGUIRE in Homicide Court for want of evidence. The defense attorney did not
cross-examine the six witnesses put on the stand by Assistant Attorney John T. ENO,
who stated, when he had presented the State's evidence, that he did not see
how the men could be held.
A joyful demonstration by relatives and friends followed the discharge of the
defendants, who had been held since the day following the murder.
The prisoners were :
Matthew MARTIN of 179 Marion St.,
Cornelius CLIFFORD of 612 Monroe St.,
Henry SHIELDS of 110 Madison St.,
James CLIFFORD of 137 Bay 51st St.,
George BLACK of 180 14th St.,
John P. MARTIN of 179 Gibson Ave.,
William CONNORS of 160 Bay Parkway,
George GIBSON of 317 Marion St.
James J. FLYNN of 6240 Vincent St., Queens Village.
New York Times
15 March 1930
GANGSTER IS SLAIN IN BROOKLYN FEUD
William SIMPSON, Aspirant to LOVETT Band Leadership, is Third to Die in 2 Months.
HE IS SHOT FROM BEHIND
Brother Tells of Fist Fight Just Before in Which Victim Bested Three Assailants.
For the third time in less than two months, Brooklyn gangdom dealt swift
death yesterday to another aspirant to the leadership of the Brooklyn dock
The latest victim was William (Baron) SIMPSON, 29 years old, of 34 Wilson
Street, Brooklyn, whose body was found soon after noon in an alleyway leading
from Furman Street to Pier 16, East River. SIMPSON, feared for his prowess as
a rough-and-tumble fighter, had been shot through the head, his assailant
pressing the pistol close to the back of the skull while he fired. Near the
body was a .38 calibre pistol with one of its six chambers empty.
Except for the discovery of the pistol and a story told by SIMPSON's brother,
"Whitie," about a fight with three men in the forenoon, the police were without
definite clues. The three men are being sought for questioning.
Others Paid With Lives.
Detectives of the Brooklyn Homicide Squad, however, were convinced that
SIMPSON had paid with his life for daring to assume a leadership that meant
control of dock-loading privileges and of dice games on Saturday afternoons,
as well as collecting tribute from foreign-born stevedores. This leadership,
which has cost the lives of such notorious figures as "Wild Bill" LOVETT and
many others in the past, has been left vacant since Jan. 30. On that date the
bullet-riddled body of Jimmy MURRAY, 55 years old, was found in the dock
loaders' rest room, at 57 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn.
Just two days before, Charles (Red) DONNELLY, 50 years old, who also had
hopes of being a waterfront czar, had been shot at dusk on the Colombian
Line pier at the foot of Main Street, Brooklyn.
As in the cases of the others, the police could find no one yesterday who
heard the shot that killed SIMPSON, despite the fact that there were about
200 persons within earshot.
The alleyway in which the body was found is adjacent to the factory of the
Fine Tin Can Company, the entrance of which is around the corner at 282 Furman
Street. The 200-odd employees in the factory were quitting work for their noon
dinner at the time, but the police could not find one who had heard any shooting.
From "Whitie" SIMPSON, Lieutenant Raymond HONAN and Detective William BROSNAN
said they got valuable information, the details of which, however,
they would not disclose.
Tells of Argument
"Whitie" SIMPSON told the police that his brother, who was the boss of a
small group of dock workers, had got into an argument about 11 A.M. with
three men at a dock not far from the alleyway where his body was found.
The argument, he said, ended in a fist fight in which his brother mauled
his three opponents so mercilessly that they fled. "Whitie" gave the police
the names of the three men.
William SIMPSON was next seen entering the alleyway running from Furman
Street to Pier 16, shortly after 12 o'clock. No one was with him and no one
was seen leaving the alleyway. Detective BROSNAN was immediately assigned
to clear up the mystery. BROSNAN has had long experience with gangs in this
The list of previous victims in the fight for the control of the dock
Dan HEAY [sic - HEALY] and Eddie MARTIN.
New York Times
John MAHONEY, Once Member of LOVETT Gang, Shot in Brooklyn
John (Happy) MAHONEY, 32 years old, a former pugilist and according to
the police a member of the Brooklyn waterfront gang once headed by Bill
LOVETT, was shot and slightly wounded in the abdomen last night in the
poolroom which he and his brother Thomas run at 132 Bridge Street, Brooklyn.
MAHONEY was taken to the Cumberland Hospital, where he was questioned by
Detective William ANDERSON of the Poplar Street station. He told the
detective that he would "take care of this myself," but when pressed
more closely he said that a stranger had walked in and shot him without
reason. Detective ANDERSON was skeptical of the latter statement.
New York Times
11 January 1931, pg 33
144 SLAIN IN 1930 BROOKLYN ALONE
Homicides, With Auto Deaths Excluded, Set New Record for the Borough
111 KILLED BY FIREARMS
Silence of Witnesses in Gang Murders is Blamed for Low Percentage of Convictions
Homicides in Brooklyn rose to a record total of 144 during 1930, an
increase of thirty-seven over the total recorded for 1929 in the
Homicide Bureau at Brooklyn Police Headquarters, it was announced yesterday.
Firearms were responsible for 111 of the killings, most of which were
traceable to gang warfare. The figures do not include deaths due to automobile
accidents. In twenty of the thirty-nine cases considered "open" the perpetrators
are "known" and are being hunted by the police.
The apparent ease with which gangsters equip themselves with firearms is
responsible for the increase, Lieutenant Ray HONAN, in charge of the Brooklyn
Homicide Squad, said in making public the figures. Arms are obtained from
mail-order houses and in near-by cities in other States and are distributed
to gunmen by middlemen in New York. In some cases forged permits, purporting
to have been issued in remote places in New York State, were found on pistol carriers.
Of the 144 homicides on record, thirteen were justifiable killings by
patrolmen and detectives in performance of duty, three were accidental and
four were listed as closed cases when the perpetrators committed suicide
or died before being brought to justice. Arrests were made in eighty-five cases,
in several of which the suspects were said to be involved in other killings.
Failure to get convictions in several of the cases in which arrests were made
was directly due to the failure or unwillingness of witnesses to testify,
apparently because of intimidation and fear of reprisal, Lieutenant HONAN
declared. This, he said, was especially true in the gang killings, in which,
he said, key witnesses often left the country.
Other listed causes for homicides were jealousy, revenge, self-defense,
degeneracy and temporary insanity. Revolvers and pistols were used in 105
shootings and shotguns were used in the other six. One man wielded a log in
self-defense, killing his assailant; another was arrested because a man he
was pursuing jumped off a roof; a father was arrested when he leaped from a
housetop with a child in his arms, killing the infant. A somnambulist armed
with a razor fatally slashed his brother and maimed his mother and sister
before he was awakened by his mother's screams.
One mystery to which the police failed to find a key was the murder of Mrs.
Rose BLATT in a flat at 501 Atlantic Avenue on May 31. She was strangled and
the apartment fired.
Three members of a family were burned to death in an incendiary fire at 2,
224 Dean Street. They were Teresa, Florence and Mary ANTIGANTI. The pyromaniac,
Jerome ZEEVE, was apprehended and sent to an asylum.
Among the various gang victims were three successive leaders of the dock loading
"racket," Charles DONNELLY, James MURRAY and William (the Baron) SIMPSON. The
most notorious of Brooklyn's racketeers to meet death was Guiseppe PIRAINO,
known at the Clutching Hand. His son Carmine was killed several months later
when his efforts to seek out the slayers of his father made existence
uncomfortable for them. Slot machine racketeers; rival policy bankers, alcohol
runners and gangsters who preyed on legitimate business - ice, window cleaning
and laundry industries - were responsible for most of the gang war deaths, it
Patrolman Walter DeCASTILLIA, attached to the Poplar Street precinct, was
killed by hold-up men, the only such fatality in the Brooklyn police ranks in 1930.
Twenty-two homicides were listed in August. March and December had sixteen each.
New York Times
21 April 1931
"TRIGGER MAN" CAPTURED
Police Overpower John FANNING Before He Can Draw Pistol
John FANNING, gunman, whose reputation as a member of the Wild Bill Lovett gang
of Brooklyn established him as one of the most notorious "trigger men" in the
underworld, was arrested early yesterday morning in a small basement restaurant
at 98 Bayard Street. He was held without bail by Magistrate BRODSKY on a charge
of violating the Sullivan law.
FANNING was seen entering the restaurant with two companions by Sergeant Harry
SCHRIEBER. When the police followed, it was said that FANNING reached for an
automatic in his hip pocket, but he was overpowered before he had an opportunity
to draw. The prisoner has a long police record, beginning with an arrest in
Troy, N. Y. in 1919. He lives at 222 Bond Street Brooklyn.
New York Times
15 December 1931, p. 34
GANG CHIEF IS SHOT IN BROOKLYN ROW
Matty MARTIN, Found in Street, Believed to Have Been Wounded in Dispute Over Girl
ALLEGED GUNMAN HIT, TOO
Both, Under Arrest In Hospitals, Refuse to Talk - Two Others Seized as Suspects
Matty MARTIN, who became boss of the downtown Brooklyn waterfront gangs a
little less than two years ago, after Red DONNELLY went the way of twenty
other dock leaders - with bullets in his chest and temple - was shot last
night. He was taken to Cumberland Hospital with two bullets in his right
side and was expected to die.
In Brooklyn Hospital, just a few blocks away, is Richard TANNER, 36 years
old, of 1,286 Schenectady Avenue, with two bullets in his left arm. TANNER
walked into the emergency room at 6:30 P.M., about ten minutes after MARTIN,
weak from loss of blood, had stumbled against a stanchion in front of
96 De Kalb Avenue and dropped to the street.
Both Men Refuse to Talk.
Early this morning detectives of the Poplar Street station arrested
James CLIFFORD, 41, a boss longshoreman, of 612 Monroe Street, and
Thomas MONTIGARI, 35, of 382 Jefferson Avenue, a partner with TANNER in
an alleged speakeasy at 62 De Kalb avenue, in which the shooting was
said to have occurred.
According to the information pieced together by the police after several
hours of investigation, the waterfront gang leader was shot not as
the result of a feud, as at first believed, but because of a dispute
over a girl.
The shooting occurred, they said, after MARTIN had been lured to the
speakeasy by TANNER and an unidentified man. TANNER, it was said, was
friendly with a young woman whose affections had been won subsequently by MARTIN.
CLIFFORD and MONTIGARI were arrested at their homes and taken to the
Poplar Street station, where they were locked up on charges of felonious
assault. Charges of felonious assault also were lodged against MARTIN and TANNER.
Ever since the dock wars began, ten or twelve years ago, with the
Red Onions and the White Handers setting up new leaders as fast as
the old ones succumbed to the gun, detectives have been balked in
their attempts to get true versions of the shooting.
Anna LONERGAN's dark star has glimmered faintly above several of
the dock war murders of the last seven or eight years. Her father,
John LONERGAN, was shot to death by her mother in a Bridge Street
bicycle shop in the Summer of 1923. A few months later she married
Wild Bill LOVETT, who was at that time head of the dock loaders'
gang on the waterfront.
Three months later, after he had sworn to his bride that he was
"through with the gang," LOVETT was found dead in the rear of a store
at 25 Bridge Street, riddled with shot. Anna married MARTIN in August,
1924. He had been one of LOVETT's aides. One night when he was walking
with his bride, an enemy fired at them, slightly wounding both.
Everything was peaceful, then, until the day after Christmas, 1925,
when Richard (Peg-Leg) LONERGAN, Anna's brother, and two other members
of the Red Onions were shot to death in a South Brooklyn drinking resort.
Al CAPONE was one of the men arrested for that shooting.
MARTIN has been arrested for murder several times, but he has never been indicted.
TANNER has been a member of one or another of the dock groups, according to
police, but so far as could be learned, he had never been arrested before.
New York Times
17 December 1931
MARTIN, GANG CHIEF, DIES OF HIS WOUNDS
Refuses to Last to Tell Who Killed Him - Widow thrice Bereaved by Gunmen's Bullets.
Matty MARTIN's name was added to the long list of downtown Brooklyn waterfront
gang leaders who have been deposed by the gun, when he died at noon yesterday
in Cumberland Hospital, Brooklyn. He was wounded Monday night in a speakeasy at
62 De Kalb Avenue.
Mrs. MARTIN, the little red-headed woman who married the gang leader in 1924, a
year after her first husband, Wild Bill LOVETT, another of the waterfront gang
chiefs, was riddled with shot, was at the bedside when MARTIN died. She was
dry-eyed and grim. While she was still Anna LONERGAN in 1923, her father was
murdered by her mother. A few months later LOVETT's death left her a widow.
Two years later her brother, Richard (Peg-Leg) LONERGAN, died with bullets in
his heart in the dock war.
Mrs. MARTIN admitted last night that her husband had told her who shot him,
just before he died. But she refused to give any names.
"I'm going to leave it in the hands of God and fate to take care of his killers,"
she said. "If I gave their names to the law the killers would arraign nine-tenths
of the law on their side and beat the case."
She described MARTIN as "a home-loving man" who realized he had enemies and
seldom drank in strange speakeasies.
Three men are held in the shooting of MARTIN. They are
George GIBSON and Jim CLIFFORD, dock leaders, and
Thomas (Dago Tom) MONTIGARY [also spelled MONTIGARI], part owner, according
to the police, of the speakeasy where MARTIN was shot. They are held without
bail on assault charges which the detectives say will be changed to homicide.
Just before MARTIN died he opened his eyes and stared at the detectives and
his wife, grouped around the bed.
"Matty," said one of the policemen, "We've done our duty; it's up to you now
to do yours. Name the man."
MARTIN closed his eyes again. "Okay," he murmured, "I'll do my duty. Turn those guys loose."
New York Times
20 September 1932, pg 2
RIVER YIELDS BODY OF SLAIN EX-CONVICT
His Head In Sack and Limbs Tied, Old Lovett Gangster Had Been Choked to Death
The body of Frank BYRNE, 33 years old, one of Wild Bill LOVETT's old Brooklyn
waterfront gang who was released from Clinton Prison a few months ago after
serving a little more than seven years for robbery, was found in the East River
off Fulton Street yesterday. His hands and feet were bound with sash cord and a
burlap bag was tied around his head and neck.
BYRNE was a henchman of LOVETT and his Red Hook gang when they were in the height
of their power ten years ago, but finally there was a falling out over the petty
dock rackets. LOVETT was shot to death the morning of Nov. 1, 1923, while sleeping
after a spree. BYRNE was sentenced for robbery the following year.
What BYRNE had been doing since he got out the police did not know yesterday.
He was not seen around the old waterfront, where the pickings nowadays are poorer
than they ever were.
"If he wasn't killed for the LOVETT job, by some of LOVETT's old pals, maybe he
tried his hand at chiseling back into the old dock rackets," one of the detectives
said. "We don't know yet what it was."
There were no bullets in BYRNE's body when Sergeant John FARRELL's crew in the
Police Launch 1 fished it out of the river yesterday morning. Death had been
caused by strangulation.
New York Times
25 February 1933
W .L. BROSNAN DIES; LONG A DETECTIVE
Member of "Old School," He Was Well Known for His Wide Knowledge of Criminals.
BROKE UP MANY GANGS
Always "Hearin' Things," He was Feared and Respected by Thugs in the Lower Brooklyn Area.
William L. BROSNAN, one of the most colorful and efficient detectives in the city,
died in Post-Graduate Hospital at 11 A.M. yesterday in his fifty-sixth year. He had
been in the department thirty-one years.
Bill BROSNAN was of the "old school" type of policeman, the kind with sharp
penetrating eyes and jutting lower jaw, addicted to long black cigars and sharply
tilted derby hats. He knew all the "tough mugs" in lower Brooklyn and they knew and
To the Negroes in the Hudson Avenue, Myrtle Avenue and Fleet Street district of the
borough he was something of a superman with an uncanny knack for picking out their
weaknesses and putting his finger on those among them responsible for criminal "jobs."
All the old-time dock district leaders in Red Hook, Erie Basin and around Fulton Ferry,
from Garry BARRY's time up to the present, respected Bill BROSNAN. Of the twenty or
more that went down before the bullet and the knife in the ongoing fight for gang
control on the waterfront, not one but was uneasy in his presence.
Warned DONNELLY of Danger
Just before Charles (Red) DONNELLY was shot to death on the Colombian Line pier at
Main Street in January, 1930, the familiar figure with the tilted derby and the black
cigar walked up to the gang chief, drew him aside with a nod of the head and said to
him: "I've been hearin' things, Red. You'd better lay off. It's in the cards that
they'll get you in the next few days."
DONNELLY laughed. Bill BROSNAN shrugged. A few days later DONNELLY had joined
Wild Bill LOVETT, Garry BARRY, Dinny MEEHAN and the score of others who had reigned
their brief hour on the docks as gang chiefs, and in the same way.
Bill BROSNAN was always "hearin' things," not only among the whites on the piers,
but among the Negroes, who knew him as "Gole Toof Bill" because of his double row
of shining teeth. With John J. SULLIVAN, now assistant chief inspector, he sent
Frank KELLY, a giant Negro, to the chair for two murders.
Two women were murdered in Brooklyn in 1919 - Catherine DUNN, a maid and
Emma McDONALD, a B.M.T. ticket agent. There was no link between the two murders
and virtually no clue, but BROSNAN sensed that both "jobs" were committed by a Negro.
He went into Hudson Avenue with SULLIVAN and through his contacts in the Negro
quarter turned up KELLY.
Confession Brought Captaincy.
"Come on, Frank," BROSNAN told the big prisoner, "tell us all about it. If you do,
SULLIVAN here will be made a captain."
Then according to the story, KELLY made the confession that was to make SULLIVAN
Captain. BROSNAN knew the Negro psychology as no other Brooklyn policeman did.
He did a lot of police work that did not show in the records, particularly among the
blacks. He helped them get back money they had paid to the sharp ones of their race
who sold them "hoodoo water" that wouldn't work, patched up family quarrels and
helped them get jobs. He had a reason for it.
Bill BROSNAN cleaned up the Navy Street gang, a band of murderers and cutthroats
that infested not only Navy Street but all of Sands Street and district under the
Brooklyn Bridge. He was an expert at running down "yeggs," or safeblowers. Among
others he put behind the bars were Tommy DOWD, Mike NOLAN and Texas Gus HORN.
Another gang was making quite a thing of holding up drug stores in the Borough
Hall district of Brooklyn about twelve years ago. The police were unable to
get a line on the personnel of the drug store raiders until one Summer night
when BROSNAN was standing in front of the old Olympic theatre, just a block
or two from Borough Hall.
Spotted Stolen Scarfpin.
"One of the boys" with a police record sauntered by, saw the detective and
flashed an uneasy, "Hello, Bill." BROSNAN acknowledged the greeting and at
the same moment noticed the peculiar pearl scarfpin the man was wearing. He
said nothing about it at the time, but several hours later with a half dozen
other detectives crashed the crook's hideout. He got the whole gang of drug
store thieves. He had recognized the pin as part of the loot taken from
William GILLETTE, owner of a drug store at Court and Amity Streets.
In the back rooms of Brooklyn police stations there have always been 1,001
BROSNAN stories. His name was legend. His partners were :
Assistant Chief Inspector SULLIVAN,
Bill CONROY and Billy MUNDY, all of whom were willing to admit that
they learned a lot from him.
"Bill BROSNAN was 100 per cent detective," said Assistant Chief Inspector
SULLIVAN yesterday. "He was a cop 365 days a year. They don't make his kind
very often." Inspector SULLIVAN was at his bedside when BROSNAN died.
BROSNAN was born in 1877 at Third Avenue and Fifth Street, near the South
Brooklyn waterfront. He was reared in the same neighborhood, which perhaps
accounted for his knowledge of the people who dwelt in it. He joined the
force in 1902, became a detective six years later and always worked in the
lower part of Brooklyn; first in the old headquarters at State Street, then
in Adams Street precinct and toward the last in the Poplar Street precinct.
He was a member of the Police Honor Legion.
In the last eighteen months he had not been very active, due to an injury
suffered when he broke an ankle pursuing a Negro their. Pneumonia set in
and he was sent to the hospital.
He leaves a widow, a son and three brothers.
An inspector's funeral will be accorded him Monday morning. After mass in
Holy Cross Church at Rogers and Church Avenues, burial will take place in
Holy Cross Cemetery.
Thanks to Kryanp@optonline.net (Kathleen): who researched and transcribed the above material
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