Tactical Shooting: The Sopranos at 20

What the fuck? I got him, didn’t I? Maybe he’s stunned?

– Peter Paul “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri in The Sopranos #3.11 “Pine Barrens” (2001)

I love The Sopranos (1999-2007); it is simply one of the best telly series ever. I have already looked at a shootout in the first season. Here is another one from the third season, set 20 years ago, examined using GURPS Tactical Shooting.

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Gangster Gats: Colosimo the Vampire or Colosimo the Vampire Hunter?

Near this table the police found an order blank which contained various words and names in pencil. The police believe the paper may contain a clew. A phone number on the paper is 4020 Calumet. This is the number of the National Rubber Products company. There is the name of Samuel Lavine, with an address on Vernon avenue; the words, “So long vampire,” and “Saturday evening.”… the word “buffalo” is also jotted down there, and “So long, Letty.”

Chicago Daily Tribune, “Colosimo Slain; Seek Ex-Wife, Just Returned” (12-MAY-1920

 

On the afternoon of 11-MAY-1920, Giacomo “Big Jim” Colosimo stepped into the vestibule of his restaurant, the famous Colosimo’s Café at 2126 South Wabash Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. Colosimo was the head of a powerful criminal organisation that would soon be known as the Chicago Outfit. Right now, he had taken a telephone call and presumably wanted to return to his new wife. At this moment, a man previously hidden in the cloakroom stepped into the vestibule and fired two shots from a .38-calibre handgun ‒ newspapers, covering all bases in the face of knowing nothing, claimed it was “a revolver, or perhaps an automatic pistol.” The first shot missed, the second entered Colosimo’s big head behind the right ear and went into his brain, killing him. Colosimo never managed to draw his own pearl-handled .38-calibre revolver. The shooter, short, stocky, moon-faced, swarthy, and nattily dressed including a derby hat, disappeared.

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Investigator Weapons: The Reverend’s Guns

Although he had two bulletproof vests and two revolvers, the Rev. Martin Green, colored, pastor of a church at 4421 South State street, went to the offices of the Detective magazine yesterday and tried to purchase a Thompson machine gun [sic]. The police were notified and he was arrested. His only explanation was that he wanted to be sure he was able to protect himself and his congregation. Dr. William Hickson of the psychopathic laboratory is to examine the minister.

Chicago Daily Tribune, “Well Heeled Colored Pastor Tries to Buy Machine Gun” (20-AUG-1926)

 

The 36-year-old reverend had come to the right place – “Al” Dunlap, editor of the magazine The Detective at 1029 South Wabash Avenue in Chicago, Illinois, had a thriving side business selling steel-lined Dunrite “bullet-proof” vests (GURPS High-Tech, p. 66; Investigator Weapons 1: The 1920s and 1930s, p. 49) of his own design and make, and Thompson submachine guns in .45 ACP (GURPS High-Tech: Pulp Guns 1, pp. 28-30; Investigator Weapons 1, pp. 87-89). Dunlap distributed no less than 65 of the submachine guns during the 1920s, at least three of which ended up in the hands of gangsters like “Fred Burke” or the Touhy Gang ‒ he was not always as circumspect about his customers as in this instance. John Dillinger’s favourite Model 1921AC submachine gun had originally been supplied by Dunlap to a sheriff’s office before it was stolen by Dillinger.

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Gangster Gats: “Red” Barker’s Ghouls

A band of ghouls seeking to rob the grave of George (“Red”) Barker, slain claimant of the gang power of Al Capone, was driven from Mount Carmel cemetery in a heated gun battle early today.

News Journal, “Gun Battle Is Staged Over Grave of Gangland Leader” (22-JUN-1932)

 

I have previously expressed doubt whether gangsters and Mythos investigations are a good fit. I am still not entirely convinced, but you could probably make it work. Recently I stumbled over an article in the Chicago News Journal, which reported that on 22-JUN-1932, shortly after midnight, four or five “ghouls” had tried to disinter the body of Chicago Outfit member George “Red” Barker in Section 26 of the Mount Carmel cemetery in Hillside, Illinois. Continue reading “Gangster Gats: “Red” Barker’s Ghouls”

Investigator Weapons: Charles Reber, Armed Investigator?

In the 1930s, Charles Reber, a US Army veteran of the Spanish-American War and an ex-Major with the Oklahoma National Guard, was a pioneer ballistics and fingerprint expert with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation & Identification, who consulted on numerous cases.

This alone would make him an interesting example for an Investigator of the Mythos. During the hunt for Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd, he was also painted as a template for an Armed Investigator in newspaper articles like “One-Man Army Rigs Auto for Sudden Battle” in The Fresno Bee (08-JUN-1934):

Though he looks like a staid schoolteacher [!], is quite and unassuming, Reber is as expert with a gun as with his ballistics apparatus … Inside his sedan he has rigged out a rolling arsenal. By reaching up with his left hand he can pull a sawed-off shotgun, loaded with buckshot, from a rack in the car. With his right hand he can claw down a Browning automatic rifle. Reaching forward he can pull a Thompson sub-machine gun from a rack on the dash of the car, where it is flanked by holders containing clips [sic] of ammunition. In the seat with him he can reach a Colt .45 automatic or a long-range German Luger automatic of smaller caliber, but deadly accuracy. On the floor, in a case, he can reach hand grenades, [tear] gas bombs and extra clips [sic] of ammunition ‒ shotgun shells, high power rifle cartridges and pistol ammunition, all carefully arranged to be “handy.” In the back seat, for long range work, he has an old Krag-Jorgensen [sic] army rifle, made famous in the Spanish-American war for its deadliness. Its sights are carefully adjusted, with wind gauge, elevation, and important other arrangements. Continue reading “Investigator Weapons: Charles Reber, Armed Investigator?”

Tactical Shooting: Public Enemies

Gentlemen, shortly you will be provided Thompson submachine guns, BARs, and uh, .351 Winchester semiautomatic rifles. We are pursuing hardened killers. It will be dangerous.

– Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Melvin Purvis in Public Enemies (2009)

Michael Mann’s Public Enemies (2009) is but the latest effort to bring the life of infamous bank robber John “Johnnie” Dillinger on the silver screen. It follows his exploits between autumn 1933 and summer 1934, but really concentrates on his affair with gun moll M. Evelyn “Billie” Frechette. As in many other Mann movies, the law enforcement side receives almost equal attention, here in the shape of Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Melvin Purvis. While Mann undertook extraordinary effort to bring the time to life through clothing, automobiles, firearms, and locations, he stuck less rigidly to the historical facts, including the timeline. Events have been moved forward or backward, people have been omitted or changed, etc. It has to be understood that Public Enemies is not really a historical film at all, unlike Bryan Burrough’s meticulously researched book Public Enemies (2004), on which it is based. It is still an excellent movie, not the least because of its awesome score and of course its actors, including Johnny Depp as Dillinger, Christian Bale as Purvis, and Stephen Graham as “Baby Face Nelson.”

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Gangster Gats: James “Mad Bomber” Belcastro, Vampire Hunter?

I recently came upon an article in the Chicago Daily Tribune entitled “Seize 12 in Bomb Factory” (01-AUG-1929). The article recounted the “breaking up” on 31-JUL-1929 of the so-called “Belcastro Gang” in Chicago, Illinois. Its capo James “Mad Bomber” Belcastro was a member of the Gas Fillers and Owners’ Association, one of the many union rackets then in operation. In reality, he was not the boss of an independent criminal gang but a member of Al “Scarface” Capone’s Outfit. He and his men produced and sold homemade bombs. Explosives were used with alarming regularity in the 1920s in Chicago for black mail, disrupting the political process including in the “Pineapple Primary” of 1927, and outright attacks on competitors. Belcastro emerged unscathed of the raids in 1929, was shot and wounded in 1931, but lived on until 1945. He had been arrested more than 150 times but had never been convicted … Continue reading “Gangster Gats: James “Mad Bomber” Belcastro, Vampire Hunter?”

Shopping Spree: Peter von Frantzius (1927)

Between 1925 and 1968, Peter von Frantzius Sporting Goods was a famous sporting goods store on the North Side of Chicago, Illinois, at 608 Diversey Parkway (GURPS High-Tech: Pulp Guns 1, p. 5; Investigator Weapons 1, p. 25). His Sport Manual from 1927 has 97 pages and describes a marvellous selection of kit useful to the investigator.

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Gun Fu: Last Man Standing

Finn: I guess you’ll just have to kill me.

John Smith: It’ll hurt if I do.

Last Man Standing (1996)

Last Man Standing (1996) directed by Walter Hill is one of my favourite films, combining as it does many awesome ingredients: set in 1931 during the Prohibition, a former mob enforcer on the run from Chicago winds up in a Texas burg under the thumbs of two feuding bootlegger gangs and starts playing the two groups against each other – cue lots of mayhem. We get a period setting with top actors including Bruce Willis as “John Smith,” but also Bruce Dern, William Sanderson, and Christopher Walken, cool vintage props including gats, suits, and haircuts, and an ace score by slide guitarist Ry Cooder. The familiar story about a loner playing two parties of bad guys against each other to his own advantage is credited prominently to Ryūzū Kikushima and Akira Kurosawa’s Yōjinbō (1961), which is ironic considering that their screenplay was based heavily on Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest (1929), a novel about a Prohibition-era agency detective who plays several gangs against each other …

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