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Three in Custody After Shooting on Uptown 'Safe Passage' Route: Alderman

By  Quinn Ford Darryl Holliday Benjamin Woodard and Emily Morris | August 20, 2013 9:12am | Updated on August 20, 2013 2:20pm

 Five people were shot in front of an Uptown church shortly before 6 p.m. Monday.
Five Shot in Uptown
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UPTOWN — Three people are in custody after a shooting that left five men wounded, including four critically, along a Chicago Public Schools "safe passage" route, an alderman said Tuesday.

The shooting was just before 6 p.m. Monday near Uptown Baptist Church, in the 4500 block of Sheridan Road, officials said.

The bloody crime scene was in the middle of a "safe passage" route where students from the shuttered Stewart School will walk to get to nearby Brenneman Elementary starting next week.

Ald. James Cappleman (46th) sent an email to constituents Tuesday praising police for their fast response.

"Police were quickly on the scene and have three persons of interest in custody," he said. "The police were able to recover quality video footage from both the police camera located at that corner and from local businesses."

Police would not immediately confirm anyone was in custody.

The men were standing along the south sidewalk of Wilson Avenue near Sheridan Road when a white two-door car pulled up, and two people fired shots from the car, said Officer John Mirabelli, a Chicago Police Department spokesman. The car then made a U-turn on Wilson Avenue and fled west, Mirabelli said.

Police originally said one of the five victims was killed. But early Tuesday morning, police said the 21-year-old man who was reported to be dead was actually in "very critical" condition at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center.

Three other victims were in serious-to-critical condition, and another man was in good condition, authorities said. They included a 26-year-old man, a 32-year-old man, a 44-year-old man and a 58-year-old man, according to police.

Cops said some of the injured men are believed to have gang affiliations and that the shooting might be gang-related.

Cappleman also said that "three of the victims had known gang affiliations from the west and south sides, and another one, also from the west side, was with the three. The fifth victim is a man from Uptown and is believed to be homeless."

The Rev. Michael Allen, head pastor at Uptown Baptist Church, 1011 W. Wilson Ave. said he didn't know any of the victims of the shooting, which happened just outside his church.

"Bout 20 shots fired outside church during Monday night meal. 5 people shot. 1 dead. Blood pools at church steps. Pray for us," he tweeted Monday night.

"A few of us went outside to see what happened," Allen said in a phone interview. "We found several people on the ground bleeding profusely, and they were screaming."

Neighborhood resident Kelsey Blankenship, 19, said she was outside during the shooting.

"I didn't hear the shots until I hit the corner. Then I heard the screaming," Blankenship said.

The man who initially was reported dead was shot in the head, Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said.

Another man was hit in the leg multiple times, while another was shot in his back, Langford said. The third victim who suffered critical injuries was shot in his arm and abdomen.

The fifth victim was shot in his hand and was in good condition.

The five victims were taken to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston and Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Weiss Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Langford said.

After the shooting, Kenston Rider, a manager at a nearby Starbucks on 4600 N. Magnolia St., said a man ran into his store and tried to lock himself in the women's restroom.

"He ran into our store and tried locking himself in the bathroom. Shortly later there were about a dozen cops telling him to get out," Rider said. "Nobody was hurt in the store. It was scary there for a second."

Police did not immediately confirm that account or say whether anyone was in custody.

On Monday night, blood could still be seen on the sidewalk at the southwest corner of Wilson Avenue and Sheridan Road. A bus shelter was shattered. At least 18 shell casings were on the ground.

Blakenship referred to three of the victims as "brothers" because they were raised in the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services system.

Allen said his church sits near the border of three gang territories. The church has security cameras that might have caught footage of the shooting, the pastor said.

"We have a slogan we adopted many years ago for this very purpose: 'Get out of our seats and into the streets,' " Allen said.

Last week the church led a prayer vigil calling for an end of violence near area schools, he said.

Before the CPS board voted to close Stewart, a hearing officer recommended that the school stay open. Neighborhood parents and activists also said they feared violent clashes between students — or on the streets of Uptown.

"I can tell you from personal experience, from student's mouths to my ears, that they are afraid to go" to Brenneman, Stewart music teacher Reggie Spears said in May.

Hearing officer Judge Charles R. Winkler, charged with evaluating whether Stewart should be shuttered, agreed.

"Will an understaffed Chicago Police Department be able to provide enough officers to assist the Stewart children?" Winkler wrote. "Will CPS hire a private security company to furnish properly trained personnel?"

Allen said Monday's shooting will result in a redoubling of the church's anti-violence work.

Area resident Donte Mearon, 35, stood outside the Uptown Baptist Church Tuesday morning and snapped a photo of the scene with his camera.

"Oh man, I had to come by and see what's happening in the neighborhood. I drive my bike past here two or three times a day. You know, this is my normal route."

The visual artist said he's lived in the area for about a decade.

"I could have been running by; my girlfriend could have been running by," he said. "What would you do if someone started shooting? Would you get on the ground? Would you take off? What would you do? So that's kind of like things we have to think about now, the tactics."