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Albany Park Shooting: 'They're Not Messing With Good Family People'

 The normally quiet 4900 block of North Whipple Street has been the scene of two shootings in less than a year.
The normally quiet 4900 block of North Whipple Street has been the scene of two shootings in less than a year.
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DNAinfo/Patty Wetli

ALBANY PARK — On a warm spring afternoon, North Whipple Street seems as quiet and sleepy as any suburban enclave.

Yet twice in the past year, it's been the scene of a violent shooting.

Early Monday morning, two teens were shot in a car parked in the 4900 block of North Whipple Street, the same block where, in August 2012, Sameer Barakat was shot and killed.

Neighbors' reaction to the news was mixed.

"It's not nothing new," said an 18-year-old high school student, who was out walking her dog on Tuesday.

The teen, who asked not to be named, said she heard the gunshots around 2 a.m. Monday but thought they were thunder and went back to sleep. She woke up the next morning to police tape.

"During the day, it's really calm here," she said.

Night time, especially during warm weather months, is a different story.

"Everyone comes out," the teen said of gang members. "The police is always around here."

Ruby Castillo, a 21-year resident of Albany Park and member of West River Park Neighbors, characterized the incident as "somewhat isolated," noting that violence "does happen around here," if not as frequently as in other neighborhoods.

"I don't want to say you're immune to it ... it's a matter of being aware as a resident of any big city," she said.

The stretch of North Whipple Street in question is bookended by Ainslie Street on the south and a western spur of River Park on the north.

On Tuesday, a number of fishermen could be found in the park, casting lines into the Chicago River, including Rick Short, 26, a lifelong Albany Park resident.

"It seems somewhat it's gotten better," he said of crime in the area. "There have been issues. They're on and off."

Asked whether word of Monday's shooting made him nervous, he responded, "Not at all."

A few acts of violence do not define the neighborhood, said another resident of North Whipple Street, who asked not to be identified.

"Ninety-nine percent are good people," he said.

Among the neighborhood's positives, he cited the diversity of its residents as well as nearby Swedish Covenant Hospital, North Park University and the area's "beautiful parks."

Monday's shooting did little to change his opinion that "it's a safe neighborhood."

The people who get shot are the people you'd expect to get shot, he said.

"They're not messing with good family people," he said.

The 17th Police District CAPS office did not respond to calls seeking comment.

The next CAPS meeting for Beat 1713 — Wilson Avenue to Foster Avenue, Kimball Avenue to the Chicago River — is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at North Park University's Magnuson Campus Center (see map).

Castillo urged residents to turn out for the meeting in force.

"It's important to show a presence, to see that there's residents that care about their community," she said.