by BRIAN NADIG
On consecutive Saturdays gunfire has been reported near Roberts Square Park and Beaubien School in the Jefferson Park community, as residents have complained about gang activity in the area.
About 75 people attended a community meeting on Wednesday evening, Nov. 8, at the park, 5200 W. Argyle St.
Residents are documenting recent crime-related problems in the area and plan to present their findings to Alderman James Gardiner (45th) and police at the 16th District Beat 1623 meeting at 6 in p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15, at Beaubien School, 5025 N. Laramie Ave.
One man said that gang members wearing black and red and can be seen drinking and smoking marijuana on a bench at the park and on schools grounds. Another resident said that she has heard gunshots while trying to put her child to sleep.
Organizers of the meeting said that their goal is to ensure the neighborhood is safe, as the park serves as a gathering place for families. “We’ve met so many friends here,” a resident said.
District commander Heather Daniel told the crowd at the park that extra patrols have been assigned to the area but that overall police receive very few calls for service for the area.
“What you are all seeing is not necessarily getting to us,” Daniel said, urging residents to report suspicious activity to the police. She added that the large turnout at the outdoor meeting — on a rainy night — speaks volumes about how the community cares about its neighborhood.
The latest gunfire occurred just to the east of the school at about 6:20 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11, in the 5000 block of West Winnemac Avenue, according to police.
Five spent shell casings were found on the sidewalk and on a front lawn on the block, and the gunfire may be related to two vehicles, described as red and silver, which reportedly were traveling west with no headlights on, police said. No injuries were reported.
Someone in one of the vehicles was described as wearing a white hooded sweatshirt and white pants, police said.
Police also received a call regarding a red vehicle with a Wisconsin license plate and its alarm going off in an alley in the 5300 block of North Latrobe Avenue, and it may be related to the incident on Winnemac, police said. No additional details were available.
In the Nov. 4 incident, a 24-year-old man was shot twice at about 3 p.m. while walking in an alley in the 5000 block of North Lockwood Avenue near Roberts Square Park, where children reportedly were playing at the time, according to police and area residents.
The man, who was transported to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, was in stable condition after suffering gunshot wounds to his upper left back and the left side of his neck, with the latter described as a graze wound, according to police.
A parent reportedly grabbed her child and friends and fled the park upon hearing the gunshots. Nine spent shell casings were found in the alley, police said.
The man reported that a car, described as an older model silver or baby blue Hyundai Sonata, drove by him but then stopped, police said.
A passenger, described only as wearing dark clothing, exited the car and reportedly asked the man what gang he represented, with the man responding that he was not affiliated with any gang, police said. The man was shot as he was walking away, police said.
The man reportedly took shelter in a nearby garage, whose owner called 911.
The man who was shot has no ties to gangs and had been in the park with a friend a short time before the incident, police said.
The shooting remains under investigation but may be the result of a “misunderstanding,” Daniel said.
Some residents said that the police need to confront suspected gang members instead of driving by and ignoring them, expressing concern that department policies have their hands tied.
In response to the shooting, Beaubien principal Michelle Ludford wrote the following to parents:
“We understand the impact incidents like this have on our community and neighborhood, and we have been working with the CPS Office of Safety and Security to make sure that our students and staff are safe and that there is no safety risk for our school.
“If you are ever made aware of a potential safety concern, please report it to us right away so that we can ensure everyone’s safety. If your child voices any concerns or fears about this incident, please let us know so that we can provide them with extra support.”