Location: 82 and 80 Second Avenue.
Rodded up and nervous as hell, the four chain-smoking mafia gunmen seated in a blue sedan on Second Avenue checked and re-checked their oiled .45 caliber Colt automatics while waiting for their mark, a portly gangster who would one day appear on Boardwalk Empire and be known as the Joe the Boss.
Part revenge and part business, the hit, they hoped, would end a mafia war that had paralyzed a stretch of pavement known as the Curbside Exchange, an open air liquor swap meet that had made Joe Masseria filthy stinking rich.
So rich in fact, that the New York Mafia’s current ruingleader, Salvatore “Toto” D’Aquila, wanted Masseria dead. To achieve his aims, D’Aquilia dispatched his chief assassin, Umberto “the Gin Millionaire” Valenti, to put Masseria on the spot on August 9, 1922.
A Barrage of Lead
Valenti’s four assassins waited diligently outside of Masseria’s apartment at 80 Second Avenue. At sometime around 2:00PM, Masseria exited his home with a smile on his face and a straw boater cocked on his head, unaware that two shooters had leaped out of a blue sedan with drawn .45 automatics.
Just as Masseria noticed the gunmen, the slugs started flying. The fat gangster sprinted for cover in a shop at 82 Second Avenue but the hail of zipping bullets and shattering glass sent him racing home, but unfortunately for him, the gunmen had him at point blank range.
Masseria Dives for Cover
They fired, and the chubby gangster dodged to the left, a bullet creased his coat. The hoods fired again, and Masseria ducked, letting the bullet pass through his hat. Ducking and diving and jukeing and jumping, bullets whizzed past the Mafiosi.
An eye witness described the scene to the New York Times:
Just as he fired the man jumped to one side…Then the man fired again and this time the man being shot at ducked his head forward. Again the man fired and again his target ducked his head down. The third shot made a second hole in my window.
High Speed Pursuit
Completely botching the entire operation, the failed hitmen jumped onto the running boards of their blue Hudson Cruiser and roared down West 5th Street were they ran into even more trouble.
A meeting of striking workers had just ended, spilling a throng of angry socialists into the streets. Pissed off and tired of gangsters, factory owners and capitalist bastards in general, the striking workers erected a human blockade to stop the fleeing Hudson, but D’Aquilia’s gorillas were unfazed.
They attempted to plow their way through the human blockade; and when that failed, they opened fire, pumping bullets indiscriminately into the crowd, hitting six men and a pony.
According to The New York Call newspaper:
The Machine, after rushing through the panic stricken crowd…[was] pursued by 15 taxicabs, trucks, and private automobiles that had been commandeered by the police…
The chase went as far as 32nd Street where the police lost the gunmen, but the nearsighted shooters would eventually get theirs.
The Man Who Dodged Bullets: Joe The Boss Masseria
Joe Masseria emerged from the failed rubout deafened and hatless, but his bullet dodging antics would make him an underworld legend. A week latter he would catch up with his would-be assassin, Umberto Valenti, and finish what The Gin Millionaire had started. Click to read the story: https://infamousnewyork.com/2013/11/23/joe-masserias-revenge-johns-of-12th-street-a-great-place-for-a-last-meal/