CHICAGO — Six people, including at least one child, were found stabbed to death in their Gage Park home Thursday afternoon. It was the deadliest violent incident in Chicago since 2003.
In what one officer reportedly called the most "gruesome" thing he's seen on the job, officers discovered the bodies inside a home in the 5700 block of South California Avenue at 1:05 p.m. Thursday. Though police said there's no immediate threat to the area, 8th District officers are increasing their presence as a precaution.
The victims included at least one child, two men and two women. Two of the adult victims were elderly, and all had been stabbed, a law enforcement source said. Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said at the scene that police believe all six people lived in the house, though medical examiners had not yet confirmed their causes of death.
A source told DNAinfo that the victims were found on different levels of the house, and they were bludgeoned and stabbed.
"This is very early, very preliminary...but there are signs of trauma [to] the bodies. ... We are still working to identify the bodies that were inside the residence," said Police Supt. John Escalante. "We are taking our time going through the residence so as to collect as much evidence as possible. Crime lab personnel are at the scene right now."
A coworker of a person who lived in the home became concerned after he did not show up to work for two days, and called police for a well-being check. Officials arrived at the scene and saw an unresponsive person inside the home before forcing their way in, Guglielmi said.
According to a law enforcement source, the Fire Department arrived first, popped the door open and police went in. They then started finding bodies with stab wounds.
Police did not confirm the age or gender of the child, though Police Supt. John Escalante said the child was likely between 10-12 years old.
Neighbors said the area used to be safer and more family oriented, though at least one long-time resident said that gang activity had been on the rise in the last five to 10 years.
Markita Williams, a neighbor of the victims, said her son is friends with a 12-year-old who lives in the home, and that she's lived near them for about three years.
Police Supt. John Escalante speaks near the scene where six people were found stabbed to death in Gage Park Thursday. [DNAinfo/Alex Nitkin]
On Wednesday, she knocked on their door to request that the "grandfather move his truck." No one answered, which she found "weird." Williams said the family's curtains have been drawn for days, something that was uncharacteristic, and her children haven't seen anyone who lives there since Monday.
Police officials said they are considering it a death investigation, and not yet a homicide investigation, as medical examiners have not yet entered the home. Officials have not identified any of the victims as of Thursday night.
Escalante said there is no immediate known threat to the neighborhood, though the 8th District has stepped up patrols in the area as a precaution.
"This is going to take some time. We'll have the street closed off," he said.
Florentino Carrazo, who was near the scene Thursday night, said he worked with a man who lived in the home where the victims were found. They cleaned windows together at O'Hare.
Yesterday, the man was supposed to bring tamales for his coworkers. He never showed up. "It was very unlike him not to show up without saying anything. He's a very good worker." They called him repeatedly, and he never answered, Carrazo said. When he didn't show up a second day, his boss called the police.
"We was a very good man, and a good worker," Carrazo said. "He was friendly, and always said hi to people when he saw them. This is very sad."
At the Gage Park Public Library, two blocks up the street, a security guard told employees about the police presence outside Thursday afternoon.
"It's always been quiet around here, very family-oriented. It's very disturbing, especially when we found out a child was involved," said Tina Morton, a library employee.
Near the corner of 57th and California, 13-year-old Hugo De La Torre fielded a barrage of question from reporters. On a nearby porch, his mother cried and made calls on a cell phone. She was friends with one of the victims, and her two sons had visited the house a few years ago.
Hugo said he doesn't remember much of the house and felt weird knowing people were now dead inside: "It's sad and crazy," he said.
Listen to scanner audio of the incident: (Reminder: Information from the scanner is not officially confirmed.)
Neighbor Lettie Maga, 63, said her family has been living on the block for 40 years, and though she feels safe during the day, she rarely ventures out at night anymore.
"My daughter is 20, and she doesn't even feel safe jogging around here. There are a lot of gangs around Gage Park High School. I think about moving sometimes, but it's hard in this economy," Magas said. "Things have just been getting worse and worse around here for the past 5 or 10 years. I hear the sirens all the time."
In police scanner audio from Thursday afternoon, an officer called in to the dispatcher, "Roll ambulance this way, we got people passed out, I don't know if they're dead or what." (Scanner audio is not confirmed by official sources.)
"Yeah, send the sarge over here, this is a bloody mess," the officer said, before he said he and his partner forced entry through the back of the house.
"This guy looks like he's been stabbed multiple times," the officer said when they found the first victim. Later, officers called in a second victim: "Yeah, there's a victim back here. It's a female, older female."
The last known violent incident with six or more victims in Chicago was in 2003, when a Canaryville gun battle with police ended in the deaths of seven people, including that of gunman Salvador Tapia.
In April 2010, James A. Larry of Madison, Wisconsin, killed five of his family members in their Chicago Lawn home. He was sentenced to life without parole.
In July, a mother and her three children were found dead in a Chatham home. All four deaths were ruled homicides by the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.
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