Organized Crime

Gangster Era Reborn: Unearthed Crime Scenes from New York’s Prohibition Underworld

Nearly 100 years later, there's still new information to discover.
The outside view of London Chemist’s Drugstore where Vincent Coll met his end.

Vincent (Mad Dog) Coll, shot and killed in telephone booth of London Chemists drugstore, NYPD 15013D, Courtesy of The New York Municipal Archives


By February 1932, the die had been cast on Vincent Coll’s life. The public detested him despite his acquittal for the murder of 5 year old Michael Vengalli. The police had orders to arrest him on sight any time he dared venture into the city limits. For criminals, his maverick attitude and psychotic ways were bad for business. He had no allies from the new Mafia chieftains, headed by Charles “Lucky” Luciano, since word got out that he accepted a contract on Luciano’s life from the late Salvatore Maranzano, the final “boss of bosses.” Coll fared no better with Luciano’s Jewish colleagues, as Dutch Schultz still wanted the Mad Dog’s head on a platter. The last person Coll could remotely call a friend, was fellow Irishman Jack “Legs” Diamond, whose brains had been blown out by assassins last December in an Albany, NY rooming house.

That left Hell’s Kitchen boss Owney Madden. He was no friend to Coll, but he represented the young gangster’s only potential lifeline. He threatened Madden to pay him a large sum of money or face being held for ransom. Madden knew about this tactic firsthand, having already paid Coll a ransom to return his second-in-command, Big Frenchy DeMange, several years earlier. Little did Coll know that his murder was already in motion, and his threats gave Madden just the opening he needed to spring the trap.

On February 8, 1932 at around 12:30am, Coll and an unidentified bodyguard arrived at the London Chemist’s drugstore. Both went to the back to use the phone booths. Of the three booths, Coll took the one on the far left and closest to the door, while the bodyguard took the middle booth. Coll quickly became engrossed in his call, speculated to be with Madden, while the bodyguard left the booth and waited at the soda fountain.

Some have speculated Coll’s phone was being traced, but the more likely scenario is Coll’s bodyguard made a call giving up their whereabouts. A car soon arrived with three hitmen. Two posted watch outside, and a third entered the drugstore with a machine gun. Upon seeing the killer, Coll’s bodyguard exchanged a knowing look with the assassin and promptly walked out the door. With the way the phones were situated, Coll’s back was facing toward the killer and he never knew what hit him.

The killer sprayed Coll from head to toe with two bursts of machine gun fire. The force sent Coll’s body toppling backward out of the booth as the conspirators made a quick getaway.

No one was ever charged with the crime.

Vincent Coll Shot in Drugstore, NYPD 15013A: Courtesy Municipal Archives, City of New York
Vincent Coll Shot in Drugstore, NYPD 15013B: Courtesy Municipal Archives, City of New York
Note the direction of the telephone. Coll most likely had his back to his killer and never saw it coming.

Vincent Coll Shot in Drugstore, NYPD 15013C: Courtesy Municipal Archives, City of New York
View of the closed booth as it was seen by Coll’s killer.

Vincent Coll Shot in Drugstore, NYPD 15013E: Courtesy Municipal Archives, City of New York
Coll’s body and the path the killer walked after acknowledging Coll’s bodyguard. Although a common store setup for the 1930s, the cramped environment left Coll little chance to escape.

Vincent Coll Shot in Drugstore, NYPD 15013F: Courtesy Municipal Archives, City of New York
Shot an estimated 12-16 times, Coll suffered bullet wounds through his brain, heart, right lung and arms.

Vincent Coll Shot in Drugstore, NYPD 15013G: Courtesy Municipal Archives, City of New York
Vincent Coll Shot in Drugstore, NYPD 15013H: Courtesy Municipal Archives, City of New York
Vincent Coll Shot in Drugstore, NYPD 15013I: Courtesy Municipal Archives, City of New York
Vincent Coll Shot in Drugstore, NYPD 15013J: Courtesy Municipal Archives, City of New York
Vincent Coll Shot in Drugstore, NYPD 15013K: Courtesy Municipal Archives, City of New York
Vincent Coll Shot in Drugstore, NYPD 15013L: Courtesy Municipal Archives, City of New York
Vincent Coll Shot in Drugstore, NYPD 15013M: Courtesy Municipal Archives, City of New York


Mad Dog Coll: An Irish Gangster, Breandan Delap and Rich Gold, Huntington Press, 2016

Paddy Whacked: The Untold Story of the Irish American Gangster, TJ English, Regan Books, 2005

Vincent Coll Death Certificate# 3110, State of New York, Department of Health, New York Municipal Archives


  1. Are there anymore gangsters pictures from the archives? They were incredible. The Vincent Coll pictures were insane. I’d love to see some of Maseria and Marrazano. That would be incredible. Please let everyone know if there’s anymore being released. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thanks for checking it out, Jonathan! So Masseria and Maranzano photos remain big targets for me. My take is they have to be somewhere, just a matter of if the Archives have it or the NYPD themselves. Believe it or not, even all these decades later there’s still records the NYPD haven’t transferred over to the Archives. There’s definitely more gangster photos. The tricky thing with the searches is that a lot of times the names are completely misspelled due the officers who arrived on scene (you’ll notice this on some of the pictures as that’s how they’re listed in the Archives records). So, it’s really a grind to go through the records but so worth it when you find gems like these. Rest assured, once the pandemic slows down and the Archives are open to the public, I’ll be right back in there searching.

      1. Couldn’t email you directly but try this – At the bottom of the first page on the site, you should should see a list of numbers going horizontally across the page in little boxes. Each of these represents a different page with the pictures. If you’re on a mobile device, it’ll be right before title of the next article.

      2. Ismael , I’d just like to thank you for your hard work in bringing this piece of history to life , these pictures are incredible, it’s one thing to read about the life and ultimately the demise of Vincent Coll , but to see the photos , amazing .
        Your hard work is much valued and greatly appreciated .
        Good luck in all your current and future endeavours .
        And once again , thank you 🙏🏻

    1. Appreciate the support James and I absolutely loved your Youtube video! You put a big smile on my face and I’ll proudly carry that new favorite person title haha Once the pandemic slows down and the Archives reopen, I plan to get right back in there digging for more gems.

  2. Amazing pictures. Nice research Ismael. I enjoyed it including the stories that go with it. I hope you find more (Greetings from the Netherlands)

  3. Wow, those pics are amazingly clear and smooth for their age!

    Thats some great research and digging, Ismael… Coincidentally Im currently reading ‘First Family’ which centres on The Morello family so I skipped that section to avoid too many spoilers! haha

    1. That’s awesome brother, I really enjoyed that book and it gave me confidence to do my own research. Yes, definitely avoid that Morello section until you finish the book haha Let me know what you think, I’d love a TV series on the Morellos.

      1. Yeah its a great book man… i just got to the part (demise) of the Camorra and the Navy Street Gang etc amazing how the Camorra could have give the Mafia a real run for their money and essentially changed organised crime in the US…

        Ahh, I never thought about a Morellos TV series, that would be insaaaane! That definitely needs the full HBO/Showtime, big budget, period costumes and set treatment!

  4. I’m also very interested in the Amberg and Shapiro brothers. Have you come across any new pics or info about them?

    1. Glad to hear it on your Amberg and Shapiro interest! I did find leads on some potential pictures from the Amberg 1926 Tombs prison breakout and potentially some of Meyer Shapiro’s murder, but alas I’ll have to wait until the Archives open back up to follow-up.

  5. Ismael,

    These are truly incredible. The amount of work, and research that went into this is deserves recognition. I truly appreciate it, as the 1920s have always been fascinating to me so it was no problem for me to read every word and study every photo.

    I was wondering if you would have access to more? Arnold Rothstein, and Legs Diamond to name a few, would be interesting crime scenes. Both went out in gangland style hits.


    Thank you

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Nucky! There is still plenty to go through regarding more potential findings. Before the pandemic shut everything down, I do remember seeing notes that indicate crime photos may exist of the hotel room where Rothstein was shot. Since he was rushed to the hospital and lingered a few days, anything that’s found would likely just be of the room and maybe the murder weapon that was tossed onto the street. Once we’re allowed back on site, I’ll be sure to look into what Rothstein photos have survived . The NYC records I used didn’t include Legs Diamond’s murder since it happened in Albany. If they still exist, they’d likely be at the New York State Archives which I haven’t had the pleasure of researching yet (in due time). I really appreciate your encouraging words and thanks again for reading.

  6. Hi, these are great! Do you happen to have or come across photos or information on Saverio “Sam” Pollaccia? He is of Brooklyn, by way of Sicily, and was connected with Masseria, Anastasia, Yale, Luciano, etc. Any information will be greatly appreciated.

    1. Thanks for reading, Nick! In my research, the only thing I’ve seen on Pollaccia was a document referencing pictures still existing of his fingerprints from a 1932 arrest. It appears in all aspects he still remains a shadowy figure, but I’ll keep an eye out on my next Archives visit.

  7. I have just started reading about a lot of this stuff. I am ashamed to say, but I am 36 years old and had no clue who Sammy the Bull even was!! Needless to say, I am a researcher and go all in. This stuff is just so fascinating, not in a way that I am glorifiying it. But in a way that my mind is constantly wondering what brings humans to the brink. Like what brings a man to turn into a serial killer. I would like to thank you, brother, for providing this information. I ended up here randomly by reading about stories. Such a great job, especially for you to take your time to detail these stories. Thank you!!!!

  8. I’m late, but this is dope! I see you’re a Morehouse Man. I’m a native of and attended Tuskegee! Good finds man! Keep up the great work!

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