The police were working yesterday upon two crimes among the city's Italian
residents, one of which was the work of the so-called Black Hand. The latter
crime was the wrecking by means of a bomb of the glass frontage of the double
tenement at 164 and 166 Elizabeth Street early yesterday morning. The other was
the murder of Tomaso Ciancrimino on Saturday afternoon before a crowded
butcher's store between Second and Third Avenues in 107th Street.
The Elizabeth Street tenement is in the midst of an Italian settlement, and is
on the block between Spring and Broome Streets. Upon the ground floor opening
from the street are a saloon and a small grocery store, both the property of
Michael Angelo Alonge, who, with his wife and four girls, the oldest of whom is
10 years, lives in the rear of the first floor.
About 2:30 in the morning Policeman George F. Bruckner was in the block on
Elizabeth Street immediately above the tenement. He knew that Policeman George
Kingston was around the corner in Broome Street.
Bruckner got to the corner of Spring Street and Elizabeth when he saw some
sparks sputtering up from the doorstep of the grocery story in the tenement 164
and 166 Elizabeth. He noted that in front of the store on the sidewalk was a box
filled with coal belonging to a small dealer in the vicinity. Thinking that this
concealed the source of the flame, he ran toward the sparks, at the same time
whistling for Kingston. At his signal Kingston came around the corner.
"What's up?" he demanded.
"Fire in the tenement," returned Bruckner, stopping for the moment. Kingston
looked up at the windows. "I don't see any fire," he said. "Why, there, down on
the sidewalk," said Bruckner, impatiently.
Then Kingston saw the sputtering, but not until the two had hesitated long
enough to save their lives.
Now they hurried toward the doorstep. When they were still fifteen or twenty
feet away there came a sharp detonation that threw them to the ground. The large
glass windows of the grocery fell into small fragments within the store, while
the stock was hurled from shelf and counter. The front of the liquor store also
was blown in sections inward. As high up as the fourth story the tenement
shattered down its windows. From the upper windows of four houses across the
street glass fell. The iron doorstep before the grocery store, where the bomb
had lain, showed a hole six inches in diameter.
For a moment after the explosion there was complete silence in the neighborhood,
while the two policemen lay where they had fallen. At the end of that still
moment a child's cry sounded in one of the tenements. As though that had been
the signal, a babel of sounds ensued. The voices of men, women and children were
united. Then from the houses of the neighborhood into the shivering air rushed
the inhabitants of the quarter. The policemen, unhurt, got up and went to the
first man, they saw.
"What is it?" they asked. "Black Hand," he said and then remained silent.
Meanwhile the Sergeant in the Mulberry Street Station, who had felt the shock
had hurried his detectives to the spot. They, with the two policemen, asked for
the proprietor of the saloon and grocery store. Alonge, who didn't seem inclined
to say much, was put forward as the man. After a time he seemed to have more
confidence. Then he told the police that he had received a number of letters
from the Black Hand demanding money, in which the threat had appeared that
unless the money was paid his place would be blown up. The first letter came on
Dec. 8. It had been mailed at Station S, on Broadway near Howard Street. Six
letters had been received, the last on Jan. 9. All were signed "Mano Nero," and
were adorned with daggers and a coffin pierced with a dagger. Six hundred
dollars had been demanded as the price of Alonge's life.
"Get on a subway train," the letters reiterated, " and ride to Fort George. Come
at 5 o'clock in the morning and come alone. I will ask you for a match and then
give me the money. Look out, for if you don't come with the money we will blow
up the house. We will kill you. Don't go to the station house."
Alonge hadn't paid any attention to the letters, as he thought, they were idle
threats intended merely to frighten him. He said that he had been in the country
twelve years and was a native of Sicily. He declared that he hadn't an enemy
here or in Italy.
The two policemen said that they hadn't seen any one passing in the street for
some time before the explosion, and that no one was in the vicinity of the house
at the time they first noticed the sparks, evidently the burning of a fuse. No
trace of any parts of a bomb or cartridge were found.
Ciancrimino, who was murdered in Harlem, was a prosperous Italian contractor who
lived with his wife and daughters at 326 East 106th Street. So far as his family
knew, he had not received any threatening letters. After luncheon on Saturday he
left the house on business. Two policemen were on Second Avenue, near 107th
Street, when they heard the sounds of two revolver shots. They hurried to 107th
Street, and in front of No. 237 found the contractor lying on the pavement with
a wound through his left eye. At his feet lay a 44-calibre revolver, with its
six chambers loaded. A number of people had been walking through the street at
the time of the shooting, more were in the butcher's shop, and children were
playing in the street before it, but no one questioned by the police had seen
the shooter or shooters.
Detective Sergft. Petrosino and his men, who are working on both cases, believe
that the murderer of Ciancrimino is Antonio Gallo of 2091 Second Avenue. Galio,
who owed Ciancrimino $300, disappeared shortly after the murder. From relatives
and friends of the dead man the police learned that Ciancrimino had made an
appointment to meet Gallo on 107th Street Saturday afternoon to get his money. A
shoemaker who lives in the same house as Gallo said, Gallo entered his shop a
few minutes after the murder and asked what had happened. The shoemaker told him
that he thought a man had been shot.
In the face of this statement of the shoemaker the wife of Gallo told Capt.
Corcoran that her husband had been in his house all Saturday afternoon, and that
after the murder a man shouted up to him that his friend had been shot around
the corner. She was unable to tell why her husband had disappeared.