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'We Will Hunt You Down,' North Side Top Police Tell Violent Gang Members

By  Benjamin Woodard and Linze Rice | June 3, 2015 6:09am 

 Foster District Police Cmdr. Cornelia Lott talks about the recent death of Shaquon Thomas.
Foster District Police Cmdr. Cornelia Lott talks about the recent death of Shaquon Thomas.
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DNAinfo/Linze Rice

EDGEWATER — Two Far North Side top cops said threats on social media led to the shooting death of prominent rapper Young Pappy, and they vowed to "hunt down" gang members who perpetuate violence in the neighborhood.

Rogers Park Police District Cmdr. Roberto Nieves told residents Tuesday night that he had personally visited five of the top gang members, or "violence drivers," in his district, telling them "the violence is not going to tolerated — we will hunt you down."

Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) called a meeting at Edgewater's Broadway Armory with both Nieves and his counterpart in the Foster Police District, Cornelia Lott, to address recent street violence and the summer plan to combat it.

Lott, whose district includes the street where Young Pappy, or Shaquon Thomas, was gunned down Friday, said the rapper was known to incite violence through social media and YouTube. He had also been shot at twice since 2014, though the bullets missed him and killed other people.

"He had exchanged barbs with rival gang members," Lott said. "He had disrespected a gang on social media and even made a rap video about it, and he was targeted. It wasn’t random."

Osterman said divisions in gangs in Rogers Park, Edgewater and Uptown have led to neighborhood-crossing alliances and more far-reaching violence.

"Shots fired on Howard Street ripple through Edgewater and trigger shootings on Wilson Avenue," he said. "We cannot build a wall in the 48th Ward and say we're safe ... and Rogers Park and Uptown can’t do the same."

Ben Woodard discusses how neighbors reacted to the meeting:

The police and alderman's office are planning a series of block club meetings and summer night events to show the neighborhood's commitment to safety.

"In the last few years we've made significant strides reducing" violent offenders, Osterman said. "The folks that are still here are violent. They're smaller in number, but they're equally as lethal."

Nieves said he had assigned 10 bicycle-mounted officers to the lakefront and tactical and gang units to hot spots.

During his visits with the gang members, he said, he also brought along a social service specialist to connect them with services such as schooling and job training.

"We try to get them to be a contributing member of society," he said.

Thomas, the slain rapper, was also targeted by the department in this way by previous Cmdr. Thomas Waldera.

Last month, Thomas and 30 other people were arrested at his family home while he was throwing a wild mixtape release party on Lakewood Avenue in Edgewater.

Police said someone at the party fired shots from the rear of the two-flat while officers were conducting a traffic stop outside.

A woman at the community meeting Tuesday said she was home — four doors down — when she heard five gunshots and a SWAT team locked down her street.

"It was seconds, and then there were police everywhere," she said, requesting she not be identified.

The woman said she learned the rapper lived at the home after the party was busted. She said the people appearing in his rap videos also were frequent visitors to the home.

She said she wished she had been informed sooner.

"I feel as a person who lives here you would want to know," she said.

Unknowingly, she had experienced another violent incident involving Thomas.

She said she heard the gunshots erupt on Devon Avenue last summer when bystander Wil Lewis was shot and killed by a gunman aiming at the rapper.

She was sitting on her porch, playing Go Fish with her young daughter.

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