Walter Spirko, who as an 18-year-old cub reporter was the first newsman on the scene of the 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, has died at 85.
Spirko, who died Friday, was working for the City News Bureau when seven rivals of Al Capone were gunned down in a garage.
He recalled that he was in the coroner’s office when he learned of the killings, even before police were notified, but that he had a hard time convincing his editor he wasn’t just another cub reporter getting fooled.
“I tried telling him twice, and he hung up on me both times,” Spirko said. “When he finally learned what happened, my editor shouted at me, ‘Spirko, why didn’t you convince me?”’
Spirko spent 14 years with the City News Bureau and 38 with the Chicago Sun-Times before retiring in 1978.