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November 10, 1924, Chicago North Side Mob Boss Dean O’Banion Killed In Flower Shop - Today In Crime History

On this day, November 10,  in the year 1924, Chicago North Side mob boss Dean O'Banion was shot and killed in the back of the Schofield flower shop which served as his criminal headquarters.

Charles Dean O'Banion was an Irish-American mobster who was the one of the main rivals of gangster Al Capone during the brutal Chicago bootlegging wars of the 1920s. With the beginning of Prohibition in 1920, O'Banion started an alcohol distribution organization.  He made arrangements for beer suppliers in Canada to send shipments and also struck deals with whiskey and gin distributors.  O’Banion and his criminal associates brutally eliminated their competition and soon became know as Chicago’s “North Side Gang”.  At the height of his power, O'Banion was supposedly making approximately $1 million a year through the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages.

Despite O’Banion’s involvement in a violent criminal organization, he was fond of flowers and was an excellent arranger.  In an effort to create a legitimate front for his criminal enterprise, O’Banion bought an interest in William Schofield's River North flower shop, near the corner of West Chicago Avenue and North State Street.  The rooms above Schofield's florist became the headquarters for the North Side Gang.  Schofield's soon became the florist of choice for mob funerals.

The Chicago Outfit, which ran Chicago’s South Side, eventually decided it didn't like O’Banion’s increasingly violent and treacherous North Side operation.  On November 10, 1924, they sent some of the boys to visit O'Banion in his shop.  O’Banion was gunned down as he was working on a floral arrangement for mob luminary Mike Merlo's funeral.  O'Banion’s murder sparked a brutal five-year gang war between the North Side Gang and the Chicago Outfit that culminated in the killing of seven North Side gang members in the infamous St. Valentine's Day Massacre in 1929.

Sources and more information:

American Organized Crime: Chicago

Dean Charles O’Banion - My Al Capone Museum

Dion O´Banion - Organized Crime Encyclopedia

Wikipedia: Dean O’Banion

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