Gangster Gats: Fred “Killer” Burke

Fred “Killer” Burke (née Thomas Camp) was a bank robber and hit man. Originally with Egan’s Rats in St. Louis, Missouri, he contracted out to the Purple Gang of Detroit, Michigan, until he eventually became one of Al Capone’s American Boys in Chicago, Illinois. He is widely believed to have been one of the perpetrators of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, a hit on George “Bugs” Moran (née Adelard Cunin) and his North Side Gang, in Chicago on 14-FEB-1929. Burke is the only one that could be positively linked to the massacre. This was done through the submachine guns that were found in a house owned by Burke in Stevensville, Michigan, on 14-DEC-1929. Burke himself was arrested in Milan, Missouri, on 26-MAR-1931.


I have previously described some of the guns used in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in the Cthulhu ‒ Waffenhandbuch (2008) (p. 281). Here is a new approach, using a public relations photo shot in Burke’s house which shows most of the arsenal found there.

Making a Killing

SD_Fred Burke

  1. Three Wisbrod Bullet-Proof Vests (GURPS High-Tech, p. 66; Investigator Weapons 1: The 1920s and 1930s, p. 49).
  2. Ward’s Western Field Model 30 pump-action shotgun in 20-gauge 2.75” (15.6×70mmR) with sawn-off barrel and shoulder stock (High-Tech, p. 106; Investigator Weapons 1, p. 76). [This was not the shotgun used in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre; although that was a pump-action as well, it was a 12-gauge.]
  3. Winchester Model 07 semiautomatic rifle in .351 Winchester (9×35mmSR) (GURPS High-Tech: Pulp Guns 2, pp. 9-10).
  4. Savage Model 99F lever-action short rifle in .303 Savage (7.62×51mmR) (High-Tech: Pulp Guns 2, p. 6).
  5. Auto-Ordnance Model 1921A submachine gun (#2347) in .45 ACP (11.43×23mm) (GURPS High-Tech: Pulp Guns 1, pp. 28-30; Investigator Weapons 1, pp. 87-89), without magazine. [This gun was later ballistically proven to have been one of the two used in the murder of Frankie Yale (née Francesco Ioele), boss of the Black Handers, in New York City on 01-JUL-1928.]
  6. Auto-Ordnance Model 1921AC submachine gun (#7580) in .45 ACP with Cutts compensator (High-Tech: Pulp Guns 1, p. 30; Investigator Weapons 1, p. 88), without magazine. [Both submachine guns were proven to have been used in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.]
  7. Three Type C 100-round drum magazines, four Type L 50-round drum magazines, three Type XX 20-round box magazines. [Two more Type L 50-round drums not shown.]
  8. Colt Government semiautomatic pistol in .45 ACP (High-Tech: Pulp Guns 1, pp. 17-18; Investigator Weapons 1, pp. 37-38).
  9. Some 900 rounds of ammunition, primarily .45 ACP. [Initial reports said 5,000 rounds, but an actual count yielded a much lower number.]
  10. Six tear gas hand grenades (High-Tech: Pulp Guns 2, pp. 30-31; Investigator Weapons 1, p. 98). [Not shown.]
  11. Several bottles of nitro-glycerine (High-Tech, p. 185). [Not shown. His primary profession was bank robber.]


Related posts:

Gangster Gats: Bonnie & Clyde

Gangster Gats: Cleaver Gang

Gangster Gats: Dillinger-Nelson Gang

Gangster Gats: “Pretty Boy” Floyd

Gangster Gats: Purple Gangle Gang






  1. Conrad Kinch · March 5, 2016

    One thing that strikes me, reading your pieces on Gangster Gats is how there appear to be a few key models; the .45 government, the thompson and 12g pump guns. Did gangsters explicitly seek those patterns out or was it just a case of what was available?


  2. shootingdiceblog · March 7, 2016

    The Colt pistols and the Thompson were particularily desirable because of their reliability and effectiveness, but (with the exception of the Thompson models) they were also fairly available in the USA. The Thompson was even a status symbol. Some gangsters would go out of their way to acquire it even if they did not need it (on account of having other or even better arms). For some, it was their downfall; the Brady Gang was taken down outside a sporting goods store where they had tried to acquire a Thompson. Pump-action shotguns were not that popular with gangsters, actually; most preferred semiautomatic shotguns.


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