One of the prime suspects, if not the prime suspect for ordering or giving his blessing for the murder of Dean O’Banion, was John “The Fox” Torrio or Papa John. Undoubtedly O’Banions murder would not have happened without Torrio’s blessing, John Torrio at the time was the head of the Chicago Outfit and had a good a reason as any to see O’Bannion rubbed out.
When John Torrio was brought in for questioning in relation to the murder of O’Banion in Schofields flowershop, their business relationship would have been examined. Torrio was more diplomatic in his approach to gangland business, preferring to have peace rather than bloodshed.
O’Banion and Torrio had come to an agreement that John Torrio would buy O’Banion’s share of Sieben’s brewery for $500,000, however while they were at the brewery working out the deal it was raided by the law. O’Banion was let off but John Torrio who had previously been arrested under the Volstead Act was now facing prison. Rumors began swirling around that O’Banion had knowledge of the raid beforehand but refused to share the information with John Torrio.
But during questioning, John Torrio claimed that he had good relations with Dean O’Banion and glowing words about him, that they were both good friends. He also said that he had only placed an order for $10,000 worth of flowers the previous week for Mike Merlo’s funeral.
The remaining North Side Gang, O’Banion’s friends wanted revenge on John Torrio and it came in the form of an ambush as John Torrio and his wife were coming home from a shopping trip.
On the afternoon of January 24, 1925, the Czar of bootlegging and vice in Chicago, Johnny Torrio and his wife Anna pull up to their apartment building, 7011 Clyde Avenue, in a black chauffeured Lincoln around 4.30pm. Anna stepped out of the car and walked to the apartment steps, while John gathered a bunch of packages from the vehicle.
Two gunmen, one carrying a shotgun and the other a handgun, climbed out of a gray Cadillac, approached Torrio and opened fire. Torrio was shot five times as he made a dash for the building but fell to the sidewalk. The gunmen escaped in their Cadillac. The chauffeur of the Lincoln, wounded in the knee by a bullet, drove off as the first shots were fired. He was later found and questioned by police. He refused to discuss the shooting.
The shooters escaped, and both the police and the underworld believed it was gangsters loyal to Dean O’Banion who was gunned down in his flower shop two months before. The two gunmen were believed to be George “Bugs” Moran & Earl “Hymie” Wiess, who approached Torrio and opened fire. Torrio was shot in the stomach, chest and face, he did survive the assassination. The attack didn’t kill Torrio but it did remove him from the Chicago underworld. Following weeks in the hospital, he sold his interests in bootlegging businesses and left Chicago. His top lieutenant, Al Capone, which rival gangsters tried to knock off a week earlier, took over the gang and built the Chicago Outfit.