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Shooting on Ald. Smith's Lincoln Park Block has Neighbors Frustrated

By Paul Biasco | October 22, 2014 7:53am | Updated on October 22, 2014 1:38pm
 An officer patrols from a squad car Tuesday near the area where a man was shot in the 1600 block of North Vine Street Monday afternoon.
An officer patrols from a squad car Tuesday near the area where a man was shot in the 1600 block of North Vine Street Monday afternoon.
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DNAinfo/Paul Biasco

LINCOLN PARK — A shooting on Ald. Michele Smith's Lincoln Park block Monday afternoon has her neighbors calling for more police in the area.

Residents of the 1600 block of North Vine Street, where the shooting occurred, said the street was plagued by drug-dealing and feuds for months this summer.

Around 4 p.m. Monday, witnesses said they heard a series of gunshots and saw a man who had been shot in the leg get into a vehicle near Vine and North Avenue.

Paul Biasco says the shooting was almost directly in front of Ald. Smith's home:

A neighbor on the block told DNAinfo Chicago she saw three men run into a condominium in the Neighborhood Commons Co-Op across the street immediately after she heard six or seven gunshots.

Police said the 20-year-old man who was shot was a gang member and that he drove himself to the hospital after the shooting.

Smith said the victimis not cooperating with police.

"I have asked for, and we are receiving, increased patrols in the area. In the meantime, and because the case is being actively investigated, there’s no answers yet," Smith said.

Smith said it is not clear if Monday's shooting is connected in any way to the drug-dealing over the summer that has since been brought under control.

"We have no idea whether this is connected to that," Smith said.

Police are searching for video of the shooting, according to Smith, including gathering footage from the housing co-op across the street and surveillance video from homes on the block.

Smith also said the victim is a resident of the Marshall Field Garden Apartments in a pocket of Old Town known as Sedville, but the director of security for apartment complex said the victim has been banned from the apartments for years due to a history of fighting.

Instead, the victim lives in one of the subsidized units along Sedgwick.

"Our property runs from Blackhawk to Evergreen and Sedgwick to Hudson. It is unfair to group these three properties together," said Diana Woznicki, director of security for Marshall Field Gardens. "Our property has 24-hour armed security as well as over 40 cameras that are monitored daily for criminal activity around our property."

Woznicki said Marshall Fields Gardens has banned 500 individuals from its property, including the victim.

The issues on the block go back to early this summer when neighbors began complaining to police about what they called blatant drug-dealing.

Neighbors said they witnessed transactions between a group of six to eight men who hung out near North and Vine and buyers who often pulled up to the block in cars.

The area is consistently littered with plastic "dime bags" which Smith told residents to gather as evidence for police.

During the height of the problem, the group of men who residents say were engaging in the drug-dealing began sexually harassing one resident of the block who had called 911 multiple times.

They also taunted a young mother, asking her if her baby wanted any drugs, neighbors said.

The neighbors banded together, and around August most of the drug issues subsided, according to both Smith and residents.

"There was an issue over the summer. It was marijuana that was being sold," Smith said. "The neighborhood worked together, not only with me and the police, but with our neighbors."

The issue was discussed at a community-policing meeting in September at the Old Town Triangle Association.

Though intermittent drug-dealing has persisisted for years, it got worse this summer, said Mike Sammon, president of the Clusters on Vine condo association.

“There’s always been a little bit of dope-dealing. You see people go in and out real quick, obvious hand-offs,” Sammon said. “It’s never really been a problem until this summer.”

Sammon said after police cracked down on the drug-dealing, things had quieted down until Monday’s shooting.

“With this thing, it got far more escalated,” he said.

There had been plans to host a community meeting involving the condo associations on the east side of the street and the co-op on the west side of the street earlier this summer, but the meeting never occurred.

"Police keep saying, 'You’ve got to call, you’ve got to call,'” Sammon said. “Some people get very frustrated by their response time. There's a level of frustration because it really is a quiet neighborhood.’

Jerry Quandt, who lives on the block where the shooting occurred and said he wants to run for 43rd Ward alderman, said the issue had been escalating for months.

"Our concern was if there's drug-dealing going on, it’s only a matter of time until there’s gunfire. That’s only a reality in the city,” Quandt said.

Quandt called on Smith to demand more police officers in the neighborhood.

"We can’t look at an area like Lincoln Park and assume that it's crime-free because there aren’t murders day in and day out," Quandt said.

It is unlikely the Near North Police District will gain officers, as the city's budget director said police staffing would remain at the same level in the 2015 budget.

During the first day of budget hearings Monday, not one alderman suggested adding more police positions, citing budget constraints.

"I’m still looking at the city budget," Smith said. "It's really all a matter of choices and resources."

  • An earlier version of this article stated the victim lived in Marshall Fields Garden Apartments.

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