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Uptown Crime: Cops 'Building a Case' in Connection to Recent Gang Shootings

By Adeshina Emmanuel | September 4, 2013 11:21am
 Police investigate a shooting on Aug. 19 in front of the Uptown Baptist Church.
Police investigate a shooting on Aug. 19 in front of the Uptown Baptist Church.
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Getty Images/Scott Olson

UPTOWN — Police said a shooting Saturday that left a teen boy shot in the head and in critical condition was gang-related — and connected to the shooting outside Uptown Baptist Church in August that killed 21-year-old Darius Oliver.

Detectives are building a case against suspects in both shootings, police said at a CAPS meeting at Truman College in Uptown on Tuesday.

Authorities also said a person of interest was in custody and being questioned in connection to Saturday's incident at West Wilson Avenue and Broadway in which a 14-year-old suffered a head wound and a 22-year-old man was shot in the wrist.

People who may have been involved in Saturday's shooting were seen "running through campus" at nearby Truman College after the incident, according to a security guard there who attended the CAPS meeting.

  Darius Oliver, 21, was pronounced dead at 12:55 a.m. Friday, four days after being shot in his head.
One of Five Men Shot Along Uptown Safe Passage Route Dies
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Ald. James Cappleman (46th) said one of the suspects had "distinguishing features" that may help in apprehending him.

Police said suspects in the Aug. 19 shooting outside the church at Wilson Avenue and North Sheridan Road were questioned but let go. But Officer Tom Walsh said at the CAPS meeting that detectives still have a lot of evidence to help build a case and eventually nab and charge people suspected in the two shootings.

Both shootings were at major intersections in Uptown, and witnesses spotted the suspects fleeing the crime scene. Camera footage also exists in both incidents.

Multiple people have been questioned in connection to the crimes, though no arrests have been made. Both shootings were a "continuation of a gang conflict that has been going on for generations" in Uptown, said CAPS beat 1913 facilitator Paul Bracht.

Three street gangs operate within blocks of Wilson Avenue and Broadway, a part of the neighborhood Cappleman has called the "epicenter" of crime in Uptown. 

Bracht said that Uptown is at its most dangerous between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Residents at the CAPS meeting questioned whether a bolstered police presence was having any success and were discouraged by a lack of charges in connection to this summer's shootings.

Some residents said police were doing the best job they could with limited resources and were interested if there was a way citizens could help deter crime, such as "walking the beat" or "positive loitering."

Others said they feared retaliation from area gang members who might recognize them during such efforts.

At least 17 people have been shot this summer in Uptown, all in gang-related shootings, according to police.

Cappleman said over the weekend that he and other aldermen wanted guarantees of more police officers on the streets before voting on the 2014 city budget. Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) said he supported the idea, but called Cappleman's budget challenge an empty threat.