HUMBOLDT PARK — A man says his jaw was broken and he was nearly knocked out during a beating that happened as a popular, unlicensed music venue called Young Camelot was being cleared out by police this month.
Andrew Ahrens said he went to a Jan. 9 show at Young Camelot, a "DIY" music venue inside an old Jehovah's Witness church at 2733 W. Hirsch St. in Humboldt Park. The building's property manager said he didn't know it was being used for concerts and it has since been shut down.
Police showed up at 1 a.m. Jan. 10 to break up the show, and crowds were streaming out when 19-year-old Ahrens got attacked, he said.
The last thing Ahrens says he remembers is "everyone was moving toward the door" of the old church, which has been converted into a 4,500-square-foot private residence. The space is not licensed for hosting performances.
"Everyone was pushing me and the person in front of me misread the push," sparking an attack, he said.
"I'm so confused with the whole situation. I'm still in shock," Ahrens said on Tuesday, adding he thinks he was struck by "multiple people, not just one person."
"It happened so fast," he said.
Standing 6-foot-tall and weighing 150 pounds, Ahrens said he and about 200 others people including his girlfriend, Dolan Bailey, were trying to quickly leave Young Camelot.
The couple, both students at Loyola University of New Orleans, and friends said they paid a $5 cover to get into an after-party show featuring DJs connected to rapper Kirk Night, who'd performed earlier in the night at the Metro.
Prior to the incident, Ahrens said, "I was having a good time with my girlfriend and with friends. Everyone was dancing."
Courtenay Bailey, Dolan Bailey's mother, said her daughter described the scene as "pandemonium."
"Their purses and stuff were getting kicked, and they got out and then they saw someone on the ground was all bloody. It was Andrew [Ahrens]. He was almost unconscious, his coat was gone," Courtenay Bailey said.
Bailey said her daughter told her that the police refused to help and told her she should call an Uber to get to a hospital, to which her daughter replied she couldn't because her phone was stolen.
Dolan Bailey took Ahrens to Norwegian American Hospital using the Uber car service. Ahrens said he was told he needed to go to Stroger Hospital, but Bailey's father ended up taking him to a hospital in west suburban LaGrange, where the Baileys live.
A police spokesman said there was nothing in the official report regarding the claim that police told Dolan Bailey to use an Uber to take her boyfriend to the hospital.
The police report says Bailey's backpack was stolen when she was grabbed by "an unknown male" and Ahrens was "struck in the face by multiple unknown subjects while his coat containing multiple items was taken." Ahrens said his wallet, containing $150, a debit card and his health insurance card, was taken in the attack.
The police report said the incident happened while the couple was "attempting to enter a party" and that the attack happened at the door; Ahrens said that was incorrect.
Three days after the attack, Ahrens had surgery on his jaw, which was broken in two places and required metal plates for it to be reset, he said.
Last week, he was cleared to fly back to home to Miami, where he lives. A sophomore studying Business Administration, Ahrens was supposed to have started his next semester in New Orleans on Monday but is taking time off from school.
Courtenay Bailey said her daughter's boyfriend is lucky to be alive.
"I have not been anti-Chicago police this whole time, but I know for a fact they were not there serving and protecting. It seems like they caused panic and anger instead. I am a huge music fan and love places like this that can promote young and up-and-coming musicians, but [Ahrens] could have died. He's lucky to be alive and that's not right," Courtenay Bailey said.
Officer Thomas Sweeney, a Chicago Police spokesman, described the crime as a "strong arm robbery." Sweeney said a resident at the address was also issued a citation for "breach of peace."
Young Camelot was started in 2012 under the name of Gahye House, according to a Logan Squarist report.
The Hirsch Street property where the attacked occurred is owned by prominent Humboldt Park landlord Gino Battaglia, according to records.
On Wednesday, Robert Rubin, a property manager for Battaglia, said that hosting unlicensed music shows "goes against everything Battaglia wants for the neighborhood" and that venue operator agreed to end his lease early. The operator could not be reached for comment.
Rubin said he started to manage the property in November and "had no idea" that the tenants were operating a music venue there.
"There is 100-percent certainty that there won't be further events on that property," Rubin said.
Rubin says he was notified of the Jan. 10 concert by Shakespeare District Police, who told him that "there were 70 people outside of the building and Uber cars lined up."
Rubin said he was not aware of Ahrens' injuries or any fights or robberies.
Early Wednesday, Yesenia Sotero, who lives near the former church, said she witnessed the police on the street after the concert was broken up.
"I was awake and heard the commotion and looked out the window and saw everything. As a neighbor I am concerned. I have seen them have parties in there but didn't know it was for concerts," Sotero said.
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