Who shot Diz Long?
Join the Call & Post as we take a look at the life and times of James E. Long, better known in Cleveland history as “Diz.” A notable enforcer in the city’s underworld, the story of James Long goes from the early days of the Majestic Hotel all the way to Las Vegas.
The Diz Long story explores what it was like during the ‘60s and ‘70s as an enforcer for some of Cleveland’s top players and hustlers involved in the Black numbers racket.
Long became friends with and a bodyguard for many of the era’s top celebrities. He became a force in the entertainment industry.
The man who would come to be called Diz, grew up in Detroit, Michigan, before coming to Cleveland and becoming one of the great enforcers of his era. Raised by his grandmother and uncles, Diz was something of a delinquent. He was always in trouble and it was decided to take him away from his grandmother and put in the Boys Vocational School (BVS) in Lansing, Michigan.
Here, the Call & Post provides excerpts from his book “Always on my own: The Biography of James E. (Diz) Long:”
While in BVS, he had his first encounter with true violence when he was forced to protect himself against being raped. Diz, not ready to accept this group of boys trying to bully him, stabbed them. This incident began to shape the direction of his life.
It was there that in his trouble childhood that cause his mind to focus on some forms of violence. Eventually he joined the service and became a paratrooper in an elite black unit near the end of the World war.
Diz said there were three things that made him want to take a hard look back at where he came from and what he has done and try to make sense of it.
The first was getting shot, the second was getting old, and the third was working on a book. Getting shot came first. It happened in Cleveland on April 26, 1976, and except for the fact that he was shot from ambush that evening, it was pretty much like any other day at that period of his life.
He was working as an enforcer for the Black numbers rackets at the time, and since it was common, sometimes he made enemies and there were always other people who wanted to muscle in, Diz took sensible precautions. That night he went back to his apartment like Diz always did.
At that time Diz was staying at The Forest Park Towers (it’s called the Lake Park Towers now) at 13855 Superior Road in East Cleveland. His apartment was on the fourth floor and faced south, towards the Lake. The fence around the eastern edge of Lakeview Cemetery is across Superior to the left. Down the hill from my window, you can see Euclid Avenue and beyond it the neighborhoods of East Cleveland.
Diz was always careful. Each night when he came home he varied my routine. Sometimes he parked in the parking lot and sometimes on the street. Sometimes he parked in the back and sometimes in the front. Sometimes inside in the underground parking lot and sometimes outside. Sometimes Diz took the elevator and sometimes the stairs. Occasionally he rode up to the fifth or sixth floor and walked back down. Diz didn’t do these things because he knew for sure that he was a target, but did them because the numbers was a rough business with a lot of competition in those years. It just made sense to take steps.
That night Diz got to his apartment with no trouble, and when finally he was inside, he locked the door and turned on the TV. The shooter must have been stalking Diz for some time he recalls because he knew all of Diz’s routines and obviously was counting on the next move, which was to walk around the couch and empty his pockets onto the table. It was what he always did when he was done for the day.
Diz would put down his gun (a snub-nosed Smith & Wesson .38), his money (in a clip), and his jewelry (a diamond ring and a gold chain with a diamond on it).
Diz didn’t suspect a thing and with the blinds down, he remembers something that sounded like a canon and realized at that moment he was hit and blood went everywhere. The bullet stroke him in his neck and then through the left side of his face.
Diz went running to the front desk of the apartment asking for them to call the police, but in Diz mind he was wondering if the shooter was going to come and finish the job. Diz figured he had to be about 100 yards away when he shot him with a 30.06 with a telescopic sight.
To this day, Diz can’t answer why the impact of the bullet and where it landed never knocked him out. The next day’s headline in the Call & Post read “Who shot Diz Long? He won’t tell.”
You can follow Diz’s life as The Call & Post provides excerpts from his book “Always on my own: The Biography of James E. (Diz) Long.”