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Real Name: Fred Goetz
Birth – Death: February 14th, 1897 – March 21st, 1934
Lore: Before his bank-robbing, bootlegging and kidnapping career, Shotgun Ziegler was supposedly one of the gunmen involved in the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929 Chicago.
Reality: This has been disputed by many sources since many more men have been hailed as Valentine’s Day Massacre gunmen than were actually involved in the event. My personal bet is that Ziegler’s day of birth being Valentine’s Day led to his claims being taken more seriously than assorted others, simply because that’s how legends and traditions seem to take their deceptive hold over the public’s imagination – through meaningless coincidences and poetic license.
At any rate, since I’m a World War One geek I find it more interesting that in 1918 this figure really, DEFINITELY did serve as a U.S. Army pilot during that conflict.
Criminal Career: From June to October of 1925, Goetz was accused of assaulting 7 year old Jean Lanbert and of involvement in an armed robbery of a physician. The former was never proven, as Goetz skipped bail and the latter cemented his fugitive status and change of name.
“Shotgun Ziegler” associated with professional criminals from this point on, especially the Chicago Outfit. Our “hero” and his wife Irene settled into married life and were described by their landlord as ideal tenants.
If legend is to be believed, Shotgun fled his former associates at some point after taking part in the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre. Later that year Ziegler along with 5 others robbed Farmers & Merchants Bank in Jefferson, WI of $352,000 IN 1929 MONEY. (Obviously it would be worth a much higher amount now.)
Resettling in Kansas City, MO, Shotgun began running a fair-sized bootlegging operation and was renowned for his vicious efficiency in eliminating rival outfits.
Eventually Ziegler hooked up with the Barker Gang and participated in several bank robberies as a member. Shotgun Ziegler also participated in the 1934 kidnapping, successful ransoming and release of Edward G Bremer, a Minnesota millionaire.
By March 21st of 1934 Shotgun’s travels found him back in Cicero, Illinois, where he was killed in a drive-by shooting outside the former gangland hangout The Minerva Restaurant. Ziegler’s wife Irene fled and her ultimate fate is unknown.
The identity of Ziegler’s killers has never been established. Some people insist Al Capone’s successor Frank Nitti had Shotgun whacked, but others claim it was former members of the Barker Gang who felt shorted by the distribution of loot following one of the jobs Ziegler took part in with them. +++
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