Two men were shot to death at a Williamsburg, Brooklyn, street corner late Sunday afternoon, November 11, 1917. Authorities surmised that the double-killing stemmed from a Mafia feud.
Witnesses saw the two men at about five-thirty that afternoon, speaking with two others on North Fifth Street just northwest of the intersection with Roebling Street. As two teenage girls walked by, they overheard an argument. They recalled that one of the men threatened, "If you don't tell us, we will kill you."
Moments later, there were gunshots. New York Police Detective James Kenny, walking home at the end of his workday, was on Roebling Street approaching North Fifth when he heard four rapid shots, a pause and then three more shots. As Kenny reached the corner, he saw two men on the ground and two others, with guns in their hands, running northwest in the direction of Driggs Avenue. He ran after the gunmen.
One fled through the hallway of a building and got away. Kenny caught up with the other at Driggs Avenue. He overpowered and disarmed the man, using a choke hold and an arm twisting move to bring him to his knees and cause him to drop his firearm. The gunman was later identified as Antonio Massino, twenty-seven, of 165 East 112th Street in Manhattan. Massino's firearm was a magazine-fed pistol. Reports indicated that its magazine was empty.
The sound of the shots brought hundreds of area residents onto the street and caused police officers Wagner, Clancey and Reilly of the Bedford Avenue Station to rush to the scene. Acting Police Captain James Green sent in reserves to disperse the crowd. An ambulance was summoned. Mazzara, shot through the heart, was already dead when it arrived. DiBenedetto, shot above the heart and in the neck, survived just a bit longer. He succumbed to his wounds within minutes of his arrival at Eastern District Hospital, then located about a half mile away on South Third Street.
Police Captain Daniel Carey and a number of detectives came out to search the area. In a vacant lot near the intersection of North Fifth Street and Driggs Avenue, beside a school construction site, they found two loaded shotguns and an empty guitar case. They concluded that the guns had been brought to the location in the case. But only geography linked the guns to the killings of Mazzara and DiBenedetto.
Manhattan police officials were notified of the murders and of the arrest of Massino. Manhattan Detective Marci was put on watch at Massino's building on 112th Street, in case his accomplice showed up. At about 2:30 the next morning, the detective observed a man approaching the building cautiously, looking up and down the street, and then dashing for the entrance. Marci placed the man under arrest. The suspect, identified as Giuseppe Martinnico, thirty-three, of 90 Main Street in Jersey City, New Jersey, was found to be in possession of a handgun very similar to the one found on Massino.
The two girls who witnessed the argument before the shooting were unable to identify the suspects. Police brought Antonino Mazzara's brother Joseph to the Bedford Station to look over the suspects. Joseph said he did not remember ever seeing the men before. Massino offered a weak explanation for running from a murder scene with a gun in his hand. He had armed himself after recently receiving two threatening letters, and drew the firearm to protect himself after hearing shots fired.
- Antonino DiBenedetto, New York City Extracted Death Index, certificate no. 21982, Nov. 11, 1917.
- Antonio Mazzara, New York City Extracted Death Index, certificate no. 21983, Nov. 11, 1917.
- "Double murder due to feud, police say," Brooklyn Standard Union, Nov. 12, 1917, p. 4.
- "Two die in street after seven shots," New York Herald, Nov. 12, 1917, p. 14.
- "Two killed in street battle," Brooklyn Citizen, Nov. 12, 1917, p. 2.
- "Two men are held on homicide charge," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Nov. 12, 1917, p. 4.