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How Chicago's Top Cop Helped Ease a Grieving Mom's Pain

By Emily Morris | September 25, 2013 6:56am
 A mother of a 21-year-old woman killed in 2012 said she met Garry McCarthy at a city event, and he followed up on her daughter's case.
Garry McCarthy Checks Up on A Case
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CHICAGO — Stacey Lowe-Lewis feels she "owes something" to Chicago's top cop.

Her 21-year-old daughter had been gunned down at a 2012 birthday party, allegedly by the guest of honor.

More than a year had passed, and no one had been arrested for Michelle Gregory's slaying. Her mom had grown frustrated and angry about the pace of the investigation, and was losing hope that anyone would get arrested.

Then she met Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy at an anti-violence event at an Englewood park. It was July 31, and Lowe-Lewis now describes their meeting as fate.

Lowe-Lewis, who works as a park supervisor, was introduced to McCarthy through a colleague. She told him about her daughter and how she thought she knew who did it, but he hadn't been arrested.

"I told her to call the next day and I would at least get her an update on the case," McCarthy said. "She wasn’t complaining. She was just sad and was looking for closure, like so many others."

He gave her his direct line, and she called. For the first time in months, she felt something could change in the case. 

"It made me have a little hope again," she said.

McCarthy called her back two days after their meeting, and again after that.

On Sept. 12, authorities announced charges against Tyrese Orr, 36.

McCarthy said the case was active before he had checked on it, and that he had no role in the arrest of Orr.

Orr turned himself in, police said, and was ordered held without bail. Authorities already "were on the verge of making this arrest," McCarthy said.

But the personal contact with the top cop — and his interest in the case — helped keep Lowe-Lewis going. And for that, she's thankful to McCarthy.

"I owe something to the superintendent," said Lowe-Lewis.

McCarthy said following up on pleas from grieving residents is something he does often. People approach him at meetings, community events and even on streets with questions about slain loved ones.

"People tell me about their cases, and I take information and I get back to them, and I make sure it's being followed up on," McCarthy said.

"It’s not going to change what happened," he said. "They lost a loved one, and there's not something I can do or anyone else can do … but we can try to make it easier for them going forward."

There are scores of other grieving families. Gregory was one of more than 500 people who lost their lives to Chicago violence in 2012, and many families of the victims, unlike Lowe-Lewis, have never seen a suspect charged in their cases.

Gregory was a Harold Washington College student. She left behind a sister and two foster siblings. She had dreams of joining the Navy and starting a nonprofit organization to mentor young black women, according to Lowe-Lewis.

She was shot three times in front of her friends in the 3900 block of West 19th Street on April 14, 2012. She was trying to leave the birthday party, but Orr thought she was trying to bring in outsiders to threaten him, according to prosecutors.

"They couldn't catch him, so they say," said Lowe-Lewis, who said she has family members who work in law enforcement.

McCarthy said he had never met Lowe-Lewis before the anti-violence event and didn't know she had family in law enforcement. But he's glad he met her.

"It is part of my job, but this is why I love what I do," McCarthy said. "The fact is, every once in a while a nugget like this is going to pop up, and I’m going to be able to say for all the different things that I go through, I can point to [this and] say that this is great. I’m glad I met her."

"Unfortunately it’s not closure yet, but it’s a step closer for her and her family," McCarthy said.