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More People Shot in Rogers Park This Year Than 2014 Due to Violent 'Uptick'

By Linze Rice | November 5, 2015 6:45am | Updated on November 5, 2015 12:57pm
 Ald. Joe Moore and Rogers Park District Cmdr. Roberto Nieves talk about violence in Rogers Park at a community meeting this summer.
Ald. Joe Moore and Rogers Park District Cmdr. Roberto Nieves talk about violence in Rogers Park at a community meeting this summer.
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DNAinfo/Linze Rice

UPDATE: The number of shooting and homicide victims have been corrected in this story.

ROGERS PARK — Tuesday night's 27-year-old shooting victim marked the 10th person hit by gunfire in Rogers Park since Oct. 13.

Ald. Joe Moore called the crime the "latest in a recent uptick of gang-related shooting incidents" in the neighborhood. 

That victim brings the total number of shooting victims to 39 this year in 28 incidents — which is one more victim than 2014's final count of 38, according to data compiled by DNAinfo.

At least four people have been murdered in Rogers Park shootings so far this year, the data  shows. There were seven people killed by gunshots in the neighborhood last year, two killed in beatings and one child killed, allegedly due to child abuse.

At least one person's shooting death this year is still under investigation by police and the Cook County Medical Examiner's office, officials said Thursday. On Aug. 19, Randy Leavell, 31, of the 4700 block of South Indiana Avenue, was found dead around 1:45 a.m. with a gunshot wound to his head in an apartment in the 1100 block of West Morse Avenue. Police have released no details of the case but said at the time a "death investigation" was underway.

The pace of shootings this year had been more or less similar to last year's pace until a rash of shootings that began Oct. 13.

For the month of October, nine people were shot in the neighborhood, seven more than during October last year.There has been one person shot in November so far this year, the same total as the entire month last year.

Between September and Thursday, 17 people had been shot in nine separate incidents, though Moore said police tell him some are related.

He also described many of the shootings as "gang-related."

The LOC, or Loyalty Over Cash, group claims the area north of Howard Street as its turf, while the Insane Cutthroat Gangsters (ICGs) claim the area near Morse — causing problems for those caught in between. Other gangs are known in the area as well, like the Black P. Stones.

Moore said police told him the three most recent incidents were the result of "an ongoing dispute between rival factions of the same gang."

Aside from the man shot Tuesday, three people were shot in the 1500 block of West Morse Avenue on Oct. 29 and another man was shot while at the Shell gas station on Sheridan Road and Touhy Avenue.

Moore also said police told him the three other shootings during October, which included five victims with the same gang affiliation, stemmed from an "internal dispute" within the group.

On Oct. 27, a man was shot in his hand near the Rogers Park/West Ridge border and on Oct. 21 a man who police identified as a documented gang member was shot just hours after police in Chicago and Evanston held a joint roll call blocks away.

The victim's girlfriend said she didn't believe her boyfriend was the intended target and said he'd not been involved in gang activity for several years, though did acknowledge some of his friends had ties to gangs.

On Oct. 13, three men were shot in the 2000 block of West Howard Street, including a 40-year-old CeaseFire worker and community activist. He said he later learned he was not the intended target and that the shooting was prompted by feuding between gangs on social media.

That same victim, Ralph Edwards, said he was also one of three shot on the same block over Labor Day in September. After that, two people were shot on Sept. 11 in the 1600 block of West Juneway Terrance and two weeks later on Sept. 26, another two people were shot at Morse and Greenview avenues.

Where a man was shot in the 1500 block of West Morse Avenue in August. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]

Neighbors Want Answers, Action

As shootings in neighborhood hot spots continue, many frustrated neighbors took to social media to lament or to post a heads-up for other residents when they think they hear gunshots.

But not all of those people are calling 911 to report the activity and not all are going to monthly CAPS and community safety meetings, police have said.

"I also urge you to attend the next CAPS beat meeting in your neighborhood," Moore wrote to residents. "Please know that the police and my office are very aware of and concerned about the recent violence and are doing everything within our power to stem it, but we need your help."

Beat facilitators and CAPS officers across the district have repeated the importance of calling 911 as well as being actively engaged in community safety initiatives like CAPS. Mayra Gomez, a CAPS community organizer in the Rogers Park District consistently urges meeting attendees to form block clubs when trying to tackle problems on the block.

During a CAPS meeting in September, Officer Robin Popelka reminded residents, "I need those calls for service, that gives me the ammo I need to put a case together."

But some groups, like Network2424, Baby Wranglers and Rogers Park Positive Loitering, to name a few, have continued to keep neighbors updated, informed and active in organizing safety events.

After a late-August shooting at Leone Beach Park, Baby Wranglers organized an arts-focused play group, neighbors meet throughout the year for positive walks around the neighborhood and recently Network2424 partnered with nearby Evanston neighbors and police to set a positive example in the community.

Edwards, who was shot in two separate incidents, said he is out daily working to better the community.

Police officers from Evanston and Rogers Park line up together for a community roll call Wednesday evening at the site of the Oct. 13 shooting. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]

Trying Strategies, Looking For Solutions

In response to the increase in shootings, Moore said Cmdr. Roberto Nieves plans to deploy additional police resources to areas they suspect retaliation shooting could happen in the future.

Surveillance footage that captured several of the shootings is being reviewed by police, he said. He's now working with the city's forestry department to help trim trees around police cameras.

Authorities also are working with building owners to install security cameras and additional lighting in problem areas, according to Moore.

Moore said police told him on Nov. 3 a "leading member" of one of the gangs was arrested after getting picked up on a weapons charge, but could not provide the person's name or provide additional details.

Another person who they believe was involved in one of the shootings was recently evicted from his apartment, Moore said.

The Rogers Park District is also continuing its strategy of "custom notifications" — or meetings between suspected gang members, their family, police and social service agents gather to warn individuals of the consequences they face by engaging in criminal activity.

Nieves said his department works also with Evanston police on a daily basis to curb violence that crosses the communities' borders.

Evanston Police recently opened a new outpost on Howard Street, promising to make the street one of the "safest, greatest" places in either city.

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