November 6, 1948
Chester, Pennsylvania
Melvin “Bad Boy” Collins (38) goes on a shooting spree, killing 8 and wounding 4 before killing himself

The motive behind the attack has been contributed to an argument over numbers, an illegal lottery in which gamblers would place bets on which numbers would be featured in various daily activities such as the takings at racetracks or the amount of bond sales. According to witnesses, Collins argued with a numbers writer before shooting. The bookie had apparently refused to pay out Collins’ winnings on a $0.50 bet and told him “I’m not going to pay it out of my pocket. I just forgot to put the number in, that’s all. If you want the money, you’ll have to take it out of my skin.” Collins shot the man then began firing at any he saw.

For over an hour, those on the scene hid from Collins as he shot his way into a tenement building and he continued to snipe victims from the second story window before barricading himself in a room. Police stormed the building using tear-gas to immobilize Collins. Before police could apprehend Collins, however, he fatally shot himself after placing the muzzle of his .22-caliber in his mouth.

A doctor who treated the victims remarked Collins “was quite a marksman,” noting four of the victims had been shot though the heart, one had been shot through the stomach, and the remainder “in vital spots in the region of the neck” or in the head.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch. November 6, 1948 via


  • “Crime: The End of Bad Boy Collins.” Time. November 15, 1948
  • “Inquest Into Deaths of Eight Killed By Crazed Gunman Are Postponed.” The Herald-Press [Saint Joseph, Michigan]. November 8, 1948
  • Evans, Orrin C. “‘Numbers’ Racket Angle In Massacre Denied By Police.” Delaware County Daily Times [Chester, Pennsylvania]. November 8, 1948
  • “Crazed Killer Murders Seven, Commits Suicide.” The Daily News-Journal [Murfreesboro, Tennessee]. November 7, 1948
  • “Crazed Slayer Kills 7 in Firing Spree.” Salt Lake Telegram [Salt Lake City, Utah]. November 6, 1948
  • “Kills 7, Wounds 6; Takes Own Life As Police Move In.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch [St. Louis, Missouri]. November 6, 1948

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