A Gangster Guns Down A Little Boy In Harlem, NY, 1931

January 3, 2024

londonchemistsvincentcollOn the fateful evening of July 28, 1931, the vibrant streets of Harlem’s Little Italy bore witness to a tragic event that would send shockwaves through the city.

Five-year-old Michael Vengalli, immersed in innocent play with a group of friends on East 107th Street, could not have foreseen the impending danger lurking in the shadows.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the block, teeming with hundreds of children and adults seeking solace on stoops or leaning out of tenement windows, a notorious Bronx-born gangster, Vincent Coll, aged 22, discreetly maneuvered toward 107th Street in Harlem. His intentions were sinister – to abduct an underling of the formidable Dutch Schultz, his former mentor.

However, Coll’s meticulously laid plans unraveled, leading to an unexpected shootout. The rat-a-tat of Coll’s machine gun echoed through the narrow streets, missing his intended target but tragically striking five-year-old Michael in the stomach, snuffing out his young life instantly. Shockingly, four other children were wounded in the crossfire, marking this calamity as the infamous “baby killing.”

The entire city recoiled in horror and indignation. Newspapers, in their fervor for justice, offered substantial rewards to anyone who could unveil the identity of the heartless gunman. Swiftly apprehended, Coll earned the menacing moniker “Mad Dog” from Mayor Jimmy Walker, reflecting the public’s collective outrage. In an unexpected twist of fate, Coll found himself acquitted later that year, thanks to a formidable defense lawyer.

Related: Get more Harlem History here.

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However, the wheel of retribution turned in February 1932. Schultz’s henchmen, seeking vengeance, unleashed a barrage of 15 bullets upon Coll as he conversed with gangster Owney Madden at a London Chemists drugstore on Eighth Avenue and 23rd Street. The streets that once bore witness to a child’s untimely demise now echoed with the brutal demise of the infamous

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