300 Sightseers See Chinatown Murder
Visitors Crowd Into Pell Street Poolroom Where Assassin Shoots Victim
November 22, 1920, New York Times
A herd of mammoth sight-seeing cars lumbered into Chinatown at 8 o'clock last night and disembarked 300 men and women for a ten-minute glimpse of the Far East. They hardly had time to take a note, when a young Chinese dodged among them and entered a poolroom at 12 Pell Street, another young Chinaman after him.
Two shots were fired in the poolroom. About forty billiard cues clashed on the floor, as the young Chinese, who had been gathered around ten tables, dashed in a panic for the doors. In about a second the place was empty of pool-shooters and employes. In another second it was filled up with curiosity-seekers, mostly Americans and Italians, and policemen.
There was a swarm of policemen on the scene before the smoke had cleared away, because about twenty had been posted by inspector Bolan at former gambling houses in Chinatown which he had closed up in recent weeks. A third set of thrill-seekers came from the Doyers Street Mission, where services had been held in celebration of five years of inter-tong amity in Chinatown and ten years of comparative peace since the big massacre in the very building where they were celebrating.
Few Chinese were there, because there had been some nervousness recently over the prospect of the outbreak of a tong war because of reported bad relations between the Hip Sing Tong and the on Leong Tong, in consequence of suspicions that individuals on the two sides had betrayed one another's violations of the law and gambling secrets to the police.
The crowd gathered around a dying man on the floor who was recognized by Detective McDonough as one Leong Yung. His wife, a white woman named Josie, broke through the crowd and exclaimed:
"He said they would get him. They have been after him for a week."
She said that Yung had made up his mind that he was going to be killed and troubled himself no further about the matter. When he went forth from their rooms on the top floor of a four-story building at 12 Pell Street he doubted if he would come back, she said, but he calmly left the matter to be settled by chance and his enemies. She said she watched from the fourth story window until he turned out of sight into Doyers Street, and before she could close the window she heard the shots. As far as the police could learn, he did not tell her why he suspected that a sudden end had been arranged for him.
"I think he talked too much," was the explanation several Chinese gave the detectives, but they insisted that they did not know what he had talked about.
Two things have occurred in Chinatown recently which are important enough to bring out the old tong warriors, according to the police--first, the repeated raids on gambling houses, and, secondly, the interference, which is regarded as entirely unnecessary, with the traffic in gin and other hard liquors.
Leong Yung had been in trouble before for telling too much. He used to be a member of the Hip Sing Tong. He wasa accused of trafficking with the police in the secrets of that organization. They held a formal trial in a Mott Street sub-cellar, convicted him, expelled him and cut out several square inches from the Hop Sing records on which his name had been fretted.
Yung left town and lived in Jersey for a time after that. He took a chance and came back to New York several weeks ago. Almost immediately the troubles of the gamblers and gin-delaers began. Whether Yung's return was connected with the anti-gambling raids and the gin confiscations or merely a contemporary event, the detectives had no doubt last night that he was shot as a retaliation by those interests.
Ordinarily, the police would not fear a tong outbreak from such an incident as the assassination last night, since the hip Sings are not expected to resent the death of an expelled man, but the raids have caused so much anger in Chinatown that more killings would not be surprising.
Tong wars are usually caused, according to experts on Chinatown, by the suspicion of one tong that its troubles with the police are due to spying and treachery by the other tong, or by the fact or suspicion of one tong that the other tong's gambling men have become too good friends with the police. Members of both tongs are said to have suffered from Inspector Bolan's raids.
The leaders of the Chinese Boy Scouts, a powerful organization in Chinatown, met last night and resolved that they would use all their power to prevent any clashing of tongs. There has not been a real tong outbreak since five years ago, when after repeated murders and revolver battles Mock Duck and Tom Lee, the rival tong leaders, were brought together and a peace treaty signed and celebrated at a big intertong banquet.
Leong Yung was one of the Chinese drafted into the army. He got some prominence at the time because he was a victim of the opium habit when he entered Camp Upton, and was cured there and built up into a first-class soldier. The armistice came a day or two before his unit was to be shipped to France.
NYC Chinatown Index |
Links & Resources |
Historical Photos | Bookstore | Directory | Image Usage Policy | Tech Info | About | E·mail