Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The New York Theater Party

"Overshadowed by the better-known exploits of Mafiosi, the dubious achievements of the early Tong members remain sadly obscure. Undeservedly neglected is Sing Dock, the chief boo how doy, or hit man, of the Hip Sing Tong in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A methodical man who always carefully mapped out his assassinations and escape plans, he became known as 'The Scientific Killer,' and, in Tong circles, his exploits were well known and well regarded.

"Sing was born in San Francisco around 1873, the son of Gout Sum Choy and Wu Shee, who owned a small general store in that city. He was brought back to China as a child by his parents and schooled there, but at fourteen he returned to San Francisco with his father. He eventually joined the Hip Ying Tong, where he soon became a valued boo how doy. Eventually his main allegiance shifted to the Hip Sing Tong, one of the two groups active in New York. he rose to be the mainstay of the coterie of killers, the 'inner council of seven' of the Hip Sings, a sort of Tong version of the better-known Murder, Inc. of Albert Anastasia. They took care of the hits and rubouts that were from time to time necessary in the course of Tong business. The 'Scientific Killer' carefully worked out battle plans and methodically trained and drilled his loyal killers.

"He came to New York and settled at 13 Pell Street around 1905. Here he planned one especially vicious hit on behalf of the Hip Sings. On August 6 of that year a performance was to be held in the Chinese Theatre at 5-7 Doyers Street. Because the actor was sympathetic to the On Leongs, Sing knew that many members of that rival Tong would be in attendance. He realized that patrons would be searched that evening upon entering the hall, and so in the afternoon before the performance he smuggled in some pistols and hid them in accessible spots around the theater. Shortly after 10:00 PM, with the theater packed with four hundred people, a Hip Sing ignited a bunch of firecrackers and, in the same moment, fellow Tong members reclaimed their pistols and began blazing away. Total havoc followed as the audience screamed and fled in panic and On Leong members produced their own guns to return fire or their own knives to meet the enemy hand-to-hand. Reported the New York Times the following morning, 'The seats, curtains, and scenery were riddled with lead. The floor was littered with pigtails, pistols, hats, coats, and debris which had been shot from the ceiling and walls.' Four lay dead or fatally injured: Lee Yuck, Lee Yee Sing, Yu Yuck, and Wu Sing. Sing called this massacre 'The New York Theater Party,' which indicates that he was either incredibly ruthless or scathingly arch.

"On March 12, 1911, at Hip Sing headquarters at 16 Bowery, Sing was shot in the stomach by fellow Hip Sing and former protege Yee Toy, and died the next day at Hudson Street Hospital. Some reports say that Yee shot in self defense, another that the two had argued over gambling debts, another that the spat was purely personal. Yee Toy went down a year later outside of his home at 12 Pell Street, across the way from his mentor's last address."

-Andrew Roth
Infamous Manhattan