The following is excerpted from Whitey Bulger: America's Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt that Brought Him to Justice. Read our interview with authors Kevin Cullen and Shelley Murphy here.
Whitey had probably always intended to kill Tommy King, the brawler who had been his onetime counterpart and rival. Once Whitey became an FBI informant, it was just a matter of time. He didn't need a reason to kill King, but King gave him one. And his new role with the FBI helped him get away with it.
Tommy King's clenched fist never left his side. But Whitey saw it. They were having words at the far end of the old Transit Cafe, which had been reinvented as Triple O's. The Killeens were gone: Donnie dead, Kenny retired. Whitey Bulger held court now, and his throne was at the back of Triple O's. King, a former Mullens guy who had become a combustible member of Whitey's emerging group, always said too much when he drank too much, and he always drank too much. He had fists the size of toasters and was known for his sucker punches—wild, looping haymakers that came out of nowhere and left their targets unconscious. Whitey glanced at King's right hand and saw it balled up, ready to fire. "Knock it off, Tommy," he said.
King unclenched his fist and picked up the longneck Budweiser in front of him. But it was too late. He was as good as dead. Whitey had seen the fist, and he knew it wouldn't be the last one, so it would have to be the last one.
The fist wasn't the only issue. King had been talking about killing Eddie Walsh, a cop from Southie who kept pulling Whitey and his boys over, looking into their car, taking mental notes of who was who and who was with whom. Walsh wasn't good at taking notes and writing up reports, but he remembered faces and names with uncanny precision. He was also FBI Agent John Connolly's liaison in the Boston Police Department, the one to whom Connolly gave his informant reports known as 302s. After Connolly enlisted Whitey as an informer in a car on Wollaston Beach, almost every 302 about criminal activity in South Boston that Connolly gave to Walsh was based on the uncorroborated, and often blatantly untruthful, words of Whitey Bulger.
King's animosity boiled over one day when Walsh pulled Whitey's car over near Carson Beach.
"What are you boys up to?" Walsh said, leaning over, looking into the back of Whitey's Malibu, taking a mental inventory of the passengers, nodding at Whitey in the driver's seat.
"Fuck off!" King barked, and Whitey turned to cast a cold, hard look at him.
"That's no way to talk to a police officer, Tommy," Walsh said.
Later, as they drove away, King went off in the backseat. "We don't need to take that kind of shit," he said. "I'm going to kill that fuckin' bastard. I'm gonna fuckin' kill him."
"Hey!" Whitey snapped glaring at King in the rearview mirror. "You're not fuckin' killing anyone. And you're not killing a fuckin' cop any time."