CHICAGO — After a 25-year-old man died after a daytime shooting in Willye B. White Park in Rogers Park on Saturday, one neighbor said that while parts of the area feel safer, gang shootings seem more and more brazen.
Around 12:30 p.m., Eric Jordan, of the 4600 block of North Racine Avenue, was walking in the 1600 block of West Howard Street when someone walked up and shot him in his chest, according to county records and Officer Janel Sedevic, a Chicago Police spokeswoman.
The man was taken to St. Francis Hospital in critical condition, Sedevic said. He was later pronounced dead.
Donna Conroy, a nearby resident known to neighbors as "the cleaning lady," said she was sweeping garbage at the park's playground when she heard "six or seven" loud bangs. She then saw a woman in the park scream at her two young children to get down, huddling themselves from the gunfire.
"It was very frightening," said Conroy, who added that she'd never witnessed a shooting before. "There are kids out here all the time, and if there are shootings going on here, they're vulnerable."
Near Jordan's home Uptown Sunday morning, Patrick, who declined to give his last name, said he and Jordan grew up together near Clarendon Avenue and Sunnyside Avenue, often playing basketball together at Clarendon Park.
"He was always really friendly, never said a bad word to anyone," Patrick said.
Patrick said Jordan, known to friends and neighbors as "E.J.," attended high school in the area before dropping out and falling in with a gang.
White Park, where Jordan was shot, is next to Gale Elementary School. A similar daytime shooting in the same area, which Gale's principal called "traumatizing," caused Gale to cancel recess in June due to fear of safety for students. After an outcry, recess was reinstated and Gale beefed up security.
This time, community leaders called for an escalated effort to prevent further gun violence in the area.
"In addition to renewing our call upon our law enforcement officials to endeavor to reduce the escalating crime rate within our community, we encourage all citizens and businesses to accept the basic responsibility of being watchdogs within Rogers Park," wrote Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce President Bill Morton in a statement. "We are not advocating vigilante-ism, but we do advocate the power of every set of eyes within our community to observe and to report suspicious persons and activities to our police."
At the time of the shooting, a city-sponsored community resource expo was scheduled to be held in Willye B. White Park.
The park's second shooting since June, Conroy said, was evidence that Rogers Park is "going in two directions" as a neighborhood.
"On one hand, most of the neighborhood feels safer ... like there's less tension when you walk around," said Conroy, who's lived in the 7700 block of North Juneway Terrace since 1998. "But in these spots where gangs hang out, it seems like they're more willing to shoot than they used to be."
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