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'Surge of Violence' in Humboldt Park Has Angry Alderman Criticizing Police

By Paul Biasco | April 1, 2016 8:51am | Updated on April 1, 2016 9:26am
 Friends of 25-year-old Luis Gonzalez, who was shot dead Wednesday, gather at the scene of his slaying Thursday afternoon in the 3000 block of West Wabansia Avenue.
Friends of 25-year-old Luis Gonzalez, who was shot dead Wednesday, gather at the scene of his slaying Thursday afternoon in the 3000 block of West Wabansia Avenue.
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DNAinfo/Paul Biasco

HUMBOLDT PARK — Humboldt Park residents near the site of a daytime shooting that killed a man Wednesday are rattled, and Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) is outraged.

The shooting, which injured one man and killed another, happened a block from The 606 trail on a residential side street.

The look of the pocket of the neighborhood where the shooting occurred gives the impression that things have gotten better there. The blocks feature a mix of older, working-class homes, apartment buildings and a scattering of modern single-family homes that have popped up in recent years.

"It's just not getting better over here. It's getting worse," said 24-year-old Ceci Rodriguez, who grew up in the neighborhood with the victim of Wednesday's murder.

Her friend, Luis Gonzalez, 25,  was gunned down while sitting in a car in the 3000 block of West Wabansia Avenue about 6 p.m., police said.

The attacker walked up to the car and opened fire before fleeing, said Officer Thomas Sweeney, a Chicago Police spokesman.

"Nobody was just getting shot sitting in their car before," Rodriguez said. "Everybody used to sit outside and chill."

Both victims are documented gang members, according to police.

Maldonado on Thursday evening released a scathing statement expressing his outrage at the Chicago Police Department and the surge of violence in the 26th Ward.

In the Grand Central Police District "gang, drug and prostitution continues despite my constant vigilance to hold the police commander accountable for the continual complaints of activity at the same locations," Maldonado said in an email to constituents.

"The community and I have tried to work with our police commanders. We have followed the directive to be the eyes and ears of our blocks and report illegal activity.  And yet the violence continues.  I know I speak for the residents of the 26th Ward when I say this is totally unacceptable," Maldonado's statement read.

The commander of the Grand Central District, Anthony Escamilla, took over the position in December.

Maldonado is calling for two emergency community meetings with police commanders in the ward and is asking residents to "express our outrage" at the growing violence outside their homes and places of work.

A second shooting occurred Thursday afternoon outside Maldonado's ward office, 2511 W. Division Street, according to the alderman.

Rodriguez, the friend of Wednesday's victim, was one of about two dozen people gathered at the scene of the shooting Thursday afternoon. Rodriguez said she moved to a different neighborhood on the North Side because of rising violence but came back to pay her respects and see old friends.

A group of men who had created a makeshift memorial with balloons, liquor bottles and candles where Gonzalez was shot dead, said their friend was working and a good guy.

A squad car was parked at the scene throughout the afternoon.

Wednesday's gunman shot Gonzalez, who lived three blocks away in the 1600 block of North Albany Avenue, in the head and neck. A 22-year-old who was also in the car was shot in the shoulder, leg and back and was taken to Stroger Hospital, Sweeney said.

A woman who lives less than 100 feet from the shooting site said she and her husband were just sitting down for dinner when they heard what they thought were fireworks.

After hearing numerous bangs, her husband went outside and heard someone yell "I can't breathe," according to the woman, who wished to remain anonymous.

She and her husband moved into the neighborhood three years ago.

"I thought things had changed for the better," she said. "This was surprising."

On Thursday morning, Maldonado met with the city's new interim Police Supt. Eddie Johnson at City Hall, where he expressed his outrage over the leadership's "lack of effective police strategies and allocation of police resources."

Maldonado said those resources are critical to stop the surge of violence in the ward and throughout the city.

"We cannot live each day and raise our families under an expectation and acceptance of violence," Maldonado said.

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