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'Zero Tolerance' After Shooting Outside Portage Theater, Alderman Says

 The Portage Theater.
The Portage Theater.
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DNAinfo/Quinn Ford

PORTAGE PARK — The Portage Theater has been in violation of its liquor license for more than a year by failing to have cameras recording the exterior of the Six Corners theater, Ald. John Arena (45th) said.

A suburban man was shot June 13 after attending a dance party at the theater, but theater operators could not provide police with video from the night of the incident, in violation of its agreement with city officials that paved the way for the theater to reopen and serve alcohol, Arena said.

Charlie Burns, the operator of theater in the heart of the Six Corners Shopping District, said the theater at 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave. has cameras, and they are in the process of being connected to the city's network to allow officials to review footage easily.

Cameras are "very important" as part of the effort to ensure the theater does not become a nuisance to residents of Portage Park, and were specifically required by city officials.

"This is a serious violation," Arena said, adding that the theater has hosted more than 70 events since it reopened a year ago without cameras.

In the wake of the shooting, which injured a 22-year-old Aurora man, whom police identified as a gang member, Arena said he would press city lawyers to "put more teeth" into the rules governing the theater's operations.

Burns and Eddie Carranza, the owner of the Portage Theater, have been "put on notice" that any additional incidents will result in immediate action by city officials, Arena said.

"There will be a zero tolerance policy," Arena said. "This is it. Any other problems, and I will do everything I can to get another operator."

Arena said city officials required cameras to record the comings and goings outside the theater because of Carranza's troubled record at the Congress Theater, which city officials determined created a nuisance because of five separate illegal incidents involving drugs from September 2011 to April 2012.

City officials yanked Carranza's liquor license at the Congress, sparking a long-running dispute between the theater owner and Arena that resulted in the closure of the theater from May 2013 to June 2014.

"We'll see how they respond now that their ability to operate the theater is threatened," Arena said.

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