Harry Madigan ran an Al Capone-controlled bar called the Pony Inn at this location, 5613 W. Roosevelt, Cicero, in 1926. In Spring of that year, the sidewalk in front of the saloon became the scene of a famous crime that haunted Capone throughout the rest of his career. The building still stands, now known as Sarno's Restaurant.
William McSwiggin was Assistant State's Attorney in Chicago, and had vigorously pursued an indictment against Al Capone in 1924 for killing Joe Howard in a South side bar. While unable to successfully prosecute Capone (despite the presence of several eye-witnesses), McSwiggin became known as a "hanging" prosecutor. But there was more to him than met the eye.
McSwiggin was also a card player, gambler, and drinker, and that naturally brought him into close contact with Capone and his associates on a regular basis. In fact, with the passage of time, Capone began to consider McSwiggin a friend. One night in late Spring, 1926, after dinner at his parents' house, McSwiggin and a few close friends went out for a night of gambling and drinks. Shortly after leaving the house, their car broke down and they ended up joining a couple of other friends in their car. These friends were the O'Donnell brothers, rival bootleggers who had a growing feud with Capone.
The O'Donnells' shiny new Lincoln went cruising through Cicero with McSwiggin and friends, hitting bar after bar, until they ended up here, at the Pony Inn, not far from Capone's Cicero headquarters. When word came to Capone that his rivals were encroaching on his territory, he sent a convoy of lieutenants, armed with machine guns, to make his displeasure known. No one told him his friend McSwiggin was with the group.
As the drinking party left the Pony Inn, bursts of gunfire sent fifty rounds into the group, killing three, including McSwiggin (the O'Donnells, the targets of the attack, escaped unharmed).
Public outcry at the gangland death of a state prosecutor pushed the police into action. Chicago police invaded Cicero, arresting Ralph Capone and raiding several Capone-owned joints. Al fled the city, spending the summer of 1926 among friends in the Italian community in Lansing, Michigan, until the heat died down enough for him to return to the Chicago area.
Never again, however, was Capone completely unmolested by the police. Though he had never intended to hurt McSwiggin, he had lost his standing with the public, who began to put increasing pressure on the police to shut down gang operations.