Vincent Mad Dog Coll a New York Gangster born Donegal

Vincent 'Mad Dog' Coll (1908-1932)

Vincent 'Mad Dog' Coll was born Magheraclogher, Gweedore on the 20th July 1908 son of (Anthony) Toal Coll, farmer & Annie Duncan – the family emigrated to the USA in 1909.

His father Tuathall Og (Anthony) Toole Coll was born 12 Feb 1868 Bunbeg, Co Donegal son of Toole Coll & Bridget Gallagher: Informant - Toole Coll. 

In 1909 the Colls with their 7 children decided to emigrate to America and settled in the Bronx, but found that their lives in New York were not much better than the ones they left behind in Ireland.

They toiled in poverty, leading Coll’s father to eventually desert the family. Coll’s mother and all but one of his six siblings died before he turned 12 years old. 
Anna (Mary) Coll his mother died of TB on 12th Feb 1916 in the Bronx (New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949)

Anthony Toal Coll died 9 June 1919 aged 51 years King's County, New York. 

Though an elderly neighbor took him in, Coll quickly began running the streets of New York with other like-minded youngsters who were attracted to the criminal lifestyle. He joined the Gopher's Street Gang quickly earning a reputation as a fearless criminal. Coll spent several spells at a variety of Catholic reform schools, but remained attracted to a criminal lifestyle. By the age of 21 he had been arrested a dozen times. In the late 1920s he started working as an armed guard for the illegal beer delivery trucks of Dutch Schultz's mob.

Coll's ruthlessness made him a valued enforcer to Schultz at first. As Schultz's criminal empire grew in power during the 1920s, he employed Coll as an assassin. At age 19 Coll was charged with the murder of Anthony Borello, the owner of a speakeasy, and Mary Smith, a dance hall hostess. Coll allegedly murdered Borello because he refused to sell Schultz's bootleg alcohol. The charges were eventually dismissed, and many suspect this to have been from Schultz's influence. Schultz was not happy about Coll's actions. In 1929, without Schultz's permission, Coll robbed a dairy in the Bronx of $17,000

Image result for mad dog coll
Mug shot of Vincent Coll
The relationship soured further when at the age of 21 Coll demanded that Schultz make him an equal partner in his criminal empire, only for his request to be rejected.  Coll split from his boss and formed his own gang. The two would never speak a civil word to each other again and the feud quickly escalated into an all out war between their two factions.
Tragically for Coll, one of the first victims was his older brother Peter who was shot dead whilst driving through Harlem on 30 May 1931. Overcome with grief and hatred, Coll launched an all out attack on Schultz’s gang, gunning down roughly twenty of his men. To finance the war he engaged in repeated kidnaps of fellow mobsters, charging huge ransoms for their release, safe in the knowledge their families would never turn to the police for help.
Tragically in July 1931 during the attempted kidnap of one Schultz’s associates a five year boy was caught in the crossfire and shot dead. The killing of young Michael Vengalli drew national attention to New York’s problem with gangs and it was then that the City’s Mayor, Jimmy Walker, infamously dubbed Coll the “Mad Dog” a nickname that would stick.
Coll went into hiding; he dyed his blond locks black, grew a mustache and wore glasses. But he only managed three months on the run before being picked up by police in the Bronx. A defiant Coll insisted he had been in Albany during the murder but he was nonetheless indicted by a grand jury. The case went to trial that December but quickly unraveled after the prosecution's sole witness went to pieces on the stand. A free man once again, Coll would protest his innocence for the rest of his life, although few believed him.
At trial 1931
But outside of prison Coll’s life was still at risk - Schultz remained his sworn enemy and had placed a $50,000 bounty on his head. A mere two months after his acquittal, Coll called  one of Schultz’s associates Owney Madden (another gangster with strong Irish connections) from a Manhattan payphone. Nicknamed “The Killer”, Madden kept Coll talking long enough for his men to trace his location. A black limousine pulled up with three men in it; two got out and one opened his coat to reveal a machine gun underneath; he opened fire on Coll, killing him instantly. In total, 15 bullets were removed from his body by the pathologist, although many more passed straight through him. Coll died 8 February 1832 aged just 23 years.
A graphic of the crime scene that appeared in the newspapers the following morning.
Coll was buried alongside Peter - his brother and a fellow mobster. Dutch Schultz sent a wreath to the funeral bearing the three letter message, “From the Boys”. He too was later killed by a fellow gangster’s bullet.
The burial scence
Dead but not forgotten, Coll would be remembered in film and song for decades after his murder. From The Ballad Of Mad Dog Coll to numerous Hollywood movies about his infamous life, popular culture has memorialized him in a way few could have predicted when he was born in Gweedore in 1908. 


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