Feature Articles

September 2001

The Bloody Gennas

By John William Tuohy

     Capone and Dion O'Bannion's deadliest competitors were the Genna Brothers. In May of 1923, brother Angelo had met his fate a few days after his honeymoon, at the hands of O'Bannionite Bugs Moran.

     Driving down a central street, Genna came across Moran and several other O'Bannionites who were driving in the opposite direction. Moran ordered the car turned around and chased Genna for a few miles, caught up to Genna's car and fired a folly of shotgun blasts into his head, killing him instantly.

     Three weeks later, Moran approached one of the Genna's bodyguards with an offer to set up two of Genna's most lethal gunmen, John Scalise and Albert Anselmi.

     In exchange for the bribe of a lifetime, Moran wanted the bodyguard to lure the Italians to the corners of Sangamon and Congress streets on June 13th at 9:00 A.M.

     The bodyguard agreed to the setup but informed Scalise and Anselmi anyway.

     On the morning of the 9th, Bugs Moran and "Schemer" Drucci waited in their car for the Italians to arrive, when suddenly a black limousine swung by their car and filled it with shotgun pellets, wounding both of the O'Bannionites, who returned fire, but were too shot up to give chase.

     Instead, they crawled out of the car, limped to a nearby hospital where they stayed for several weeks recuperating from their wounds.

     Meanwhile, the drive-by limousine, which contained Genna gunmen Mike Genna at the wheel and Scalise and Anselmi on guns in the back seat, speeded down the street and almost sideswiped an unmarked police car carrying Irish American police detective Michael Conway, rookie William Sweeny, officer Charles Walsh and another officer, Harold Olson.

     Recognizing Mike Genna, the policemen gave chase through the city streets at 70 miles an hour, finally overtaking the gangsters' limousine after it smashed into a telephone pole. The three gangsters hopped out of the car, shotguns in hand.

     The squad car pulled up a few seconds later and Detective Conway leaped out and first and was cut down first. Next the hoodlums killed Walsh and Olson, leaving only the rookie cop, Sweeny unwounded to shoot it out.

     Sweeny covered himself behind the squad car and fired several shots at the gangsters who fired back and then fled across an empty field. Sweeny gave chase.

     Anselmi and Scalise disappeared into a nearby alley, leaving their boss Mike Genna alone to shoot it out with the Detective Sweeny.

     Out of breath, Genna stopped and turned on the oncoming cop and raised his shotgun and pulled the trigger only to find both barrels empty. Sweeny fired off a blast into Genna's leg and the bullet lodged in a main artery.

     By now the area was flooded with dozens of cops who found Genna hiding in the basement of a house he had broken into to elude the manhunt.

     He had lost too much blood, an ambulance was called, the dying Genna placed inside. As they sped to the hospital, a guard lowed his face close to the gangster and asked if he was comfortable. Genna kicked him in the face, "Take that you sonofabitch!" He died a few minutes later. Anselmi and Scalise were arrested a short time later, trying to escape on a railroad car.

     A few weeks later, Tony Genna was gunned down in a grocery store in an almost exact duplication of the Dion O'Bannion murder. As Tony shook the hand of an associate, someone came up behind him and shot him through the head.

     Tony and Mike Genna were buried together in Mount Carmel Cemetery, Chicago's boot hill. When one policeman, sent to witness the burial noticed the Italian's grave site was only a few feet from Dion O'Bannion's tomb, he said, "When judgement day comes and them three graves are opened, they'll be hell to pay in this cemetery."

Mr. Tuohy can be reached at

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