Luke Kennedy Is Shot
On October 31, 1921, City Constable and current head of Egan’s Rats, William T. Egan, was shot in front of his tavern in the 1400 block of Franklin Avenue. William “Dinty” Colbeck, a beefy World War I veteran, ran to his boss’ side. According to legend Egan whispered the names of the shooter to Colbeck.
Colbeck sensed his leader was beyond saving and swore to avenge Egan’s death. The 37-year-old Egan passed away later that evening at 10 pm. Egan refused to reveal the shooters to the police even after he knew his wounds would prove fatal. Colbeck didn’t wait too long to enact his revenge.
Egan’s Angel of Death prepared to set up John Doyle, Luke Kennedy and James Hogan. It would not be easy. The men kept a low profile after the murder. Hogan also was often accompanied by bodyguards as he was the younger brother of Hogan’s Gang leader Edward “Jelly Roll” Hogan.
The Hogan Gang rose in the 1910s as a rival Irish gang to Egan’s Rats. Edward Hogan gave the order to kill Egan, which made him target number four after Colbeck got the men who shot William Egan.
Colbeck finally got his opportunity on December 30, 1921. An unlikely source made his ambush possible. On December 29, 1921, St. Louis Police summoned Kennedy and Hogan to police headquarters to question them about Egan’s murder and the recent murder of John Cipolla and Everett Summers.
Police were forced to release the men after 20 hours. Hogan and Kennedy left in a car with Abe Goldfeder and Jacob Mackler. The Rats had been tipped off to the detention of Hogan and Kennedy. As the car pulled away from the curb, the driver did not notice the car trailing it by a few vehicles.
When the vehicle containing Hogan and Kennedy was a few blocks from police headquarters, the touring car pulled alongside and emptied several rifle bullets and shotgun shells into the vehicle. Miraculously, only Luke Kennedy was shot. Kennedy suffered a serious leg injury but it was not life threatening. Colbeck’s first attempt to eliminate two of Egan’s killers was unsuccessful.
Later, St. Louis Police claimed James Hogan requested a police escort to his home at 3055 Cass Avenue. Edward “Jelly Roll” Hogan strongly refuted this claim saying the Hogan brothers did not need protection from anyone particularly the police.
The touring car was traced to a car lot associated with Egan’s Rats. The owners reported the vehicle stolen but St. Louis Police did not believe them. However, Kennedy refused to name any of the shooters, so the owners and William Colbeck were released without charges.
“Dinty” Colbeck was not done seeking his revenge. However, someone else would eliminate one of the killers before Colbeck could. Once again, an unlikely source would unwittingly and unwillingly take care of some of the Rat’s dirty work.
Source: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 2, 1922 edition, p. 1Pin It