On this day in 1925 Richard “Peg Leg” Lonergan was shot dead, along with some of his key men at the Adonis Social Club at 154 20th Street in Brooklyn. A number of people were arrested in connection with the murders including Al Capone, though none were charged.
On late Christmas night or the early hours of St. Stephens (Boxing Day) morning the bodies of “Peg Leg” Lonergan along with Cornelius “Needles” Ferry were found shot to death inside the club, one body, Aaron “Abe” Harms was found on the street outside which had been dragged outside and left there, with blood streaks leading back inside. Another man James Hart, was found at the Cumberland Street Hospital not far from the Adonis Social Club with a gunshot wound to the leg.
What happened or who did the shooting is unclear as there were no witnesses, no one heard anything or saw anything. There are a few rumors as to what happened but what is known is that there were a few dead men by the end of the night. Some reports say that Lonergan and four others arrived at the Adonis Social Club in a highly drunken state, looking for trouble and made a lot of derogatory comments to people in the club. Another version states that some Irish girls arrived at the club with some Italian men, when Lonergan and his group seen the girls they said some derogatory comments to the girls and thats when it all kicked off.
According to reports, the lights went off and shots rang out. People who had been in the club drinking and partying ran for the exits, when the guns stopped, the lights went on and the dust settled, Richard “Peg Leg” Lonergan & Cornelius “Needles” Ferry were dead on the dancefloor, Aaron Harms body had been dragged outside and James Hart was later found and arrested in the hospital.
What followed were the arrests of Al Capone, Sylvester Agoglia and a bartender Anthony Desso, 3 women with very Irish surnames who either worked at the club or were guests were also taken into custody. Later two more of the White Hand Gang were arrested, suspected of being in the club at the time, they were Patrick “Happy” Maloney and Joseph “Ragtime” Howard. Although all of them were released eventually due to lack of evidence and witnesses.
Richard “Peg Leg” Lonergan had taken over as the leader of the White Hand gang from the previous leader, William “Wild Bill” Lovett, who was also Lonergan’s brother in law as he had married Lonergans sister Anna. The Lonergans themselves were part of a crime family stretching all the way back to an early gang the Yakey Yakes, Lonergans mother Mary was the sister of Jake Brady the leader of the Yakey Yakes based in Lower Manhattan.
Peg Leg Lonergan was 24 years old at the time of his death. At his wake & funeral two more of his gang would be arrested for harassing & threatening reporters who were taking pictures, they were Matthew “Matty” Martin and Frank Gervasio.