The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Lincoln Square Neighbors: Police Left Us in the Dark About Park Attack

By Patty Wetli | September 25, 2014 3:07pm | Updated on September 25, 2014 3:22pm
 Winnemac Park at dusk.
Winnemac Park at dusk.
View Full Caption

LINCOLN SQUARE — When a police helicopter started circling over her house late last Friday, beaming a flood of light into Winnemac Park, Elsa Johnson called 311 to find out what was going on.

"The helicopter was ridiculous. It was completely like, 'What?' " said Johnson, who's lived in Lincoln Square for nearly 20 years.

"At first they told me, 'They're shooting a movie,'" Johnson recounted at a community policing meeting for Beat 2032. "Then I called back and they told me, 'There's an armed person in the neighborhood.'"

Patty Wetli says neighbors were angry and confused about mixed messages from city and police officials:

Neighbors tuned in to police scanners and posted to online message boards, swapping often contradictory information, in an effort to piece together the scene at the park.

Days later at the CAPS meeting, Chicago Police Officer Libby Godinez provided some answers.

At 10 p.m. on Sept. 19, three people — a 63-year-old woman, a 40-year-old woman and a 12-year-old boy — were walking together through the park when they were confronted by two men, Godinez said.

One of the men punched the older woman and she fell to the ground. They stole a gold necklace from the younger woman and when she began screaming, one of the men pulled out a handgun and pointed it at her, according to Godinez.

The robbers fled within the park, which is veiled with trees and tall prairie plants, and officers pursued, including a canine unit and a helicopter unit already hovering nearby to conduct patrols of Rogers Park.

The victims were taken to Swedish Covenant Hospital where they were treated and released.

No one was apprehended. Police described the suspects as black men between the ages of 20 and 30. One was about 6'1 while the other was about 5'9 and both were wearing hooded sweatshirts, police said.

Godinez stressed that 311 was not the appropriate communication channel to contact under the circumstances.

"Never call 311 for that," she said. "You call 911 or you call the District."

Neighbors like Johnson questioned why the district doesn't push information out to neighbors — particularly in the case of an armed gunman on the loose — as opposed to relying on residents to seek out the information themselves.

"In this day and age, there is a way to alert people," she said, referencing Amber Alert texts many people receive. "They do it in northern Wisconsin where they barely have Internet. All they need to say is, 'Hey, stay inside.'"

For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: