Danny Greene: The bombing and the fallout

Vintage WEWS: The man, the attempts, the bombing

CLEVELAND - Vic Lancaster was a free-lance cameraman at WEWS in our film and early videotape-era. Lancaster enjoyed his hobby, shooting ribbon cuttings and other feature pieces and always carried his film camera in the trunk of his car. On Oct. 6, 1977, his hobby paid off.

Lancaster's insurance office was in the Brainard Place office building in Lyndhurst. Danny Greene had just left a dentist appointment in the same building.

Erie, Penn. hit-man Ray Ferritto set off a remote-controlled bomb in a car next to the car belonging to Greene.

Greene, the longtime Cleveland mobster who avoided multiple attempts on his life, was killed.  Lancaster ran to his car and began filming.

Watch Lancaster's film and other clips in our video player. An index of the clips is listed below.

Years ago, Lancaster told me when he began rolling his camera he felt as if the pieces from the explosion were still falling.

Pete Elliott Sr. ran the Witness Security Program for the Northern Ohio Division of the U.S. Marshals at the time.

Elliott also believes the ashes from the Greene bombing are still falling figuratively. The ashes Elliott speaks of are the bits of information that brought down the mob, here and nationally.

"If the mob knew what they did when they killed Danny Greene or what they were going to start, they never would have done it," said Elliott.

Greene's killer Ferritto would eventually turn himself in. The mob wasn't happy and wanted Ferritto dead. Ferritto decided to talk, and in the world of organized crime, that was unheard of in those days.

Elliott ran the unit that protected those who made deals.

To Elliott, the movie "Kill the Irishman" is just a good story, but in his mind a great story began after Greene's death--the story of the wounding of the mob here and nationally, the story of the men and women of law enforcement dealing with the aftermath of Greene and the mob.

That story also includes months away from family, protecting those who had been on the other side of the law, stories of sitting face to face with killers and staying a step ahead of those who wanted them dead.

Elliott, who retired in 1990 after 23 years with the Marshals, believes the mob made a big mistake killing Greene and that Greene sent the mob a parting shot.

Greene's arm was blown a hundred feet from his body and Elliott said he thinks as the arm was falling to earth, its middle finger was extended aimed squarely at the Cleveland mob. With a movie made based on the Irishman's life, Elliott may be right.

Index of clips in video player:

Lancaster film of bombing followed by videotape of the bombing. Warning: contains graphic shot of Greene's body.

1964 WEWS interview of Danny Greene.

Greene's house bombed includes interviews and trailers on the property after the rubble is cleared.

Shondor Birns, Greene associate leaves court in 1965.

1977 Little Italy film after a failed attempt on John Nardi's life followed by car bombing which killed Nardi.

Story on March 11, 2011 newscast.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments

Related stories