Excerpt # 8 – Murder and Mayhem in the Big Apple – From the Black Hand to Murder Incorporated



Nine days later, on July 19, 1931, Meyer Shapiro was strolling down Church Avenue and East 58th Street in the East New York section of Brooklyn, when a dark sedan pulled up next to him and three gunman started firing.

Shapiro jumped into his car and tried to escape, with the sedan speeding after him.

Policeman Harold Schreck was driving nearby when he heard the gunfire. He rushed to where the shots had come from and spotted the dark sedan careening straight toward him.

Not seeing Shapiro speeding away for his life, Policeman Schreck ordered the driver of the sedan to pull over, but the sedan whizzed past him.

Policeman Schreck made a U-turn and gave case; his right hand driving and his left hand firing a gun at the speeding sedan.

Soon, Schreck was joined by another police car manned by policemen Joe Fleming, with his partner Harry Phelps riding shotgun. The two police cars chased the sedan onto the streetcar tracks.

The sedan skidded all over the road, almost tipping over several times, but it always regained its balance. At one point, Policeman Schreck spotted a pistol being flung from the car into an empty lot on Sutter Avenue.

The chase ended at Livonia and Howard Avenues, where the three gangsters sprung from the car and tried to flee on foot. The cops jumped out of their two cars and caught all three men before they could get very far.

The three men turned out to be Abe Reles, Harry Strauss, and Dasher Abbandando, who had obviously lost his skills at “dashing.” The cops also found a sawed-off shotgun near the sedan (which had been stolen six days earlier at the corner of Pitkin and Stone). It was obvious; the hot shotgun had recently been discharged.

The three thugs were arrested, but they refused to talk.

The police had information that Reles and his boys were “out to get” Meyer Shapiro, but Shapiro, only slightly wounded, went into hiding. With no dead body and no one to issue a complaint, Brooklyn District Attorney Geoghan was forced to let Reles and his men go.

That made it 20 times that Meyer Shapiro had survived a Reles-led pistol attack.

As a consolation prize, a few days later, Reles and Happy Maione cornered Joey Silvers on a Brownville Street corner, and up close, they blew his head almost completely off his shoulders.

However, Meyer Shapiro was still on the loose, with Reles and his boys in fiery pursuit.

Meyer Shapiro decided Brooklyn was too hot for him, so he holed up in Manhattan where he thought he was safe; and he was – for a while.

While in Manhattan, Shapiro, his gang shrinking quickly, figured maybe he could establish himself in Manhattan; a little loansharking, a few slot machines, and maybe even a speakeasy he could call his own. While attempting to set up shop in Manhattan, Shapiro exposed himself to the underworld element; not a smart thing to do for a man with a bull’s-eye on his back.

On Sept. 17, Shapiro stopped in a Manhattan speakeasy for a drink. It’s not clear who spotted him first, but soon Kid Twist, Happy, and Buggsy abducted Shapiro and took him to a Lower East Side cellar located at 7 Manhattan Avenue.

The next morning a newsboy found Shapiro’s body in that cellar. He had been shot once behind the left ear at extremely close range, which was verified by deep powder burns where the bullet had entered Shapiro’s skull. As was his plan, Reles fired the fatal shot himself, and even Reles couldn’t miss with his gun pressed up against Shapiro’s noggin.

Scratch Shapiro brother No. 2.



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