Although the West Side waterfront was known for bloodshed and senseless killings, the night of February 7, 1941 would prove to be an exceptionally busy day for the volatile neighborhood gangsters.
At 9:30 pm, Joseph Moran, a warehouse checker who had been speaking up about his concerns with John “Cockeye” Dunn and Eddie McGrath`s leadership over AFL Local 21510, was unloading a truck with three co-workers at 508 West 14th Street.
As Moran and the others hauled crates of cocoa, a new model car pulled up near them. The gang’s hitman of choice, Andrew “Squint” Sheridan, hopped out of the passenger seat of the vehicle and walked up to the group. Given his poor eyesight, Sheridan wanted to make sure that he had the right target. “Which of you is Joe Moran?” he asked.
Moran, who was standing only feet away, responded, “Me.” Sheridan drew a pistol from his pocket and shot Moran once in the forehead. Casually stepping forward, he proceeded to shoot Moran twice more in the chest before slowly walking back to his getaway car. The other platform workers who witnessed the killing were understandably tongue-tied when later questioned by police.
When the newspapermen descended on Moran’s home to get the scoop, they found his inconsolable wife clutching their newborn baby. She stressed that her husband had not been involved in any waterfront feuds and had no enemies.
Moran had talked too loud about the Dunn-McGrath Mob and was another casualty of their heavy-handed rule over the waterfront.
The eyes of a near-sighted killer— Andrew "Squint" Sheridan
In an unrelated murder, and only an hour before Joseph Moran was shot, Emil “The Polack” Nizich would meet a similar fate just up the block. Tit-for-tat killings had dominated the Hell’s Kitchen waterfront throughout 1940, and four would-be gang bosses had recently been slain during the fight for control of the Midtown piers.
On January 25, 1941, Nizich, a well-known local hoodlum, was shot in the shoulder while getting a shoe shine, and his companion, Thomas Cunniff, was killed. The two, who had also been previously shot and wounded together in 1937, had been heavily involved in the year’s recent violence.
The killer of Cuniff, who obviously still had unfinished business after the January shooting, caught up with Nizich on 48th Street while he was walking to a neighborhood basketball game. The gunman pumped a few bullets into Nizich’s back, who then collapsed in the road and was struck by an oncoming car. After the shooter was sure Nizich was dead, he jumped onto the running board of a taxi cab and yelled for the driver to “Drive like hell!”
Bowers Mob gunman Daniel St. John was later arrested for the murder but released due to lack of evidence.
Emil "The Polack" Nizich
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