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City Shutters Private Club Where Man Was Gunned Down

 Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) held a press conference Wednesday morning to address a seedy private social club where a man was shot and killed Sunday.
Alleged Gang Bar Shut Down
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HUMBOLDT PARK — The city has shut down a private social club on Division Street where a Logan Square man was shot and killed early Sunday morning.

The unnamed, unmarked bar at 2504 W. Division was a regular hangout for Spanish Cobra street gang members, whose turf surrounds the bar, sources said.

Last weekend, Andre "Choco" Velasquez, 36, of the 2100 block of North Avondale, was gunned down during a fight there about 6 a.m.

Those who knew him said he had been trying to break up the scuffle.

After the slaying, Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) began a push to shut down the club. On Friday signs were posted saying it was shuttered because of the lack of a liquor license and public amusement license required for dance clubs, music venues and the like, according to notices pasted on the club's front window Friday.

The club operated on odd legal grounds that frustrated Maldonado, who claimed his hands were tied in closing the club. The bar was chartered as private social club under state law, essentially the same way VFW bars operate.

By state definitions, such a club — registered as a not-for-profit corporation — is supposed to operate "solely for a recreational, fraternal, social, patriotic, political, benevolent, or athletic purpose, but not for pecuniary gain."

But some have questioned if that's how the club was actually being run.

Chicago police, Maldonado insisted, had no jurisdiction to enter the establishment unless a call of a fight or incident was made from inside the club. Otherwise they had to treat it like a private residence and could not go in if denied entry.

Maldonado  said the city's department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, which issues liquor and public amusement licenses, would have been the ones to shut the club down, but because they don't conduct investigations in the middle of the night they were unaware of it.

Department spokeswoman Jennifer Lipford said in such a situation police would be the ones to investigate and relay the information back to the city.

When  reached by phone Friday afternoon, Maldonado said a "task force" that included the fire department and other government entities had inspected the club and ordered it closed.

The building's owner, Francisco Matos, has not returned voicemails seeking comment.