Thursday, July 23, 2009

Italian Harlem's Police Report #4

Topic: Gunmen Kill Cousin of Lupo-the-Wolf; Slayers Open Fire From Automobile with Sawed-Off Shotguns in Harlem 1922

Vincent Morrelli, also known as Vincent Terranova, whose murder yesterday morning at 116th Street and Second Avenue is said by the police to have been the cause of the pistol battle in Grand Street last evening, was shot down near his home by several men in an automobile, who escaped. Morrelli's ostensible occupation was that of restaurateur, but he is known to the police as a leader in bootlegging gangs and as an associate of counterfeiters, "policy" men and members of other gangs.Morrelli, although severely wounded, dropped to one knee and drew his revolver, firing several times. Then, as he fell back, he flung the weapon far into the street, in apparent last effort to have his person free from any incriminating evidence when the police arrived.

When Patrolman Winter of the East 126th Street Station did arrive, a minute later, Morrelli was dead and the car was gone. Two witnesses, however, were on hand to tell of its presence.Morrelli was identified by his widow, who had heard the shooting. Later investigation showed he was the man who was also known to the police as Terranova. It was recalled that several months ago he had been arrested on a charge of a violation of the Sullivan law and that he had been involved in a bootlegging gang. Detective Hugh Cassidy, who once worked under Lieutenant Petrosino in the Italian district, believed however, that the feud that led to Morrelli's murder ran back further than the Volstead act.

The police were still gathering together the loose ends of Morrelli's history last night, when the Grand Street shooting occurred. In 1908, it developed, he had been arrested as a suspect in the murder of Diamond Sam Sicco. He was acquitted of the charge. The murdered man's half brother, Giuseppe Morrelli, and Ignazio Lupo, were arrested in 1900 at Highland, N.Y., for counterfeiting and were sentenced to serve twenty-five years each. They were pardoned recently.Morrelli was a cousin of Lupo who is known as Lupo, the Wolf, and whose name came up during the investigation of the "barrel murder" at Avenue A and Eleventh Street in 1900.Nicola Terranova, a brother of the slain man, and Charles Umbracio were lured to a house in Brooklyn and killed about five year ago. A cousin, named Charles Lamonti, was shot in 1913 at 116th Street and First Avenue. Lamonti's brother Joe was shot and killed about a year later.

The New York Times May 9, 1922

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