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Shooting Shakes Gage Park Block: 'We Fear For Our Lives Over Here'

By Alex Nitkin | April 20, 2016 7:45am | Updated on April 20, 2016 12:33pm
 A recent uptick in crime pushed Ruben Orozco to set up a camera outside his home. It didn't capture Tuesday's shooting, he said.
A recent uptick in crime pushed Ruben Orozco to set up a camera outside his home. It didn't capture Tuesday's shooting, he said.
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DNAinfo/Alex Nitkin

GAGE PARK — Four teenagers were shot, one fatally, while sitting in a parked van on the Southwest Side late Tuesday night, police and witnesses said.

The teens were sitting in the 2700 block of West 53rd Street when someone pulled up alongside them in a red minivan and fired multiple shots at them, according to Officer Jose Estrada, a Chicago Police spokesman.

Ruben Orozco, who lives on the block, said he was jolted awake by six gunshots in rapid succession, followed by the screeching of tires. He came outside and saw a teen lying still in the street alongside three others, who were "screaming and crying."

Police said an 18-year-old man was shot in his upper chest and pronounced dead on the scene.

The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office identified him as Jason Napoles, of the 2500 block of South Christiana Avenue.

Another 18-year-old was brought to Mount Sinai Hospital after being shot in his back, Estrada said. Police could not provide his condition but said he was "stable."

Two other men, 18 and 19, were taken Stroger Hospital, where they were both "stable," Estrada said. The 18-year-old was shot in his back and the 19-year-old was shot in both arms and grazed in his head.

Police said all four teens were "self-admitted" gang members, and Orozco said he'd seen all four of them walking around the area calling out gang slogans and flashing signs.

After a quiet couple of years, Orozco said, the block has started to see a resurgence in crime. He installed a camera outside his home, advertising it with a sign saying "Smile, you're on camera," but he said it's done little to deter troublemakers.

"It's kind of a cycle, where some people will move in and cause all kinds of problems," said Orozco, who's lived on the block for 10 years. "Then they'll get chased out, it'll be calm for a while, and then someone else will move right in and take their place."

"It gets me really upset," Orozco added. The quiet residential neighborhood had already been on edge; in February, neighbors were devastated when an entire family was slain in their home about four blocks away from the shooting.

In the face of such trauma, Orozo said, many neighbors feel that Ald. Ed Burke (14th), the powerful chairman of the City Council Finance Committee, has been missing in action.

"We're all very upset with him right now," he said. "He's downtown making all that money, and a lot of us really feel like he isn't tending to his ward."

Orozco tried four times to secure a meeting with the alderman, he said, and was turned down every time.

Down the block, another woman shared Orozco's frustration.

"He's such a big name, everybody knows Ed Burke," said the woman, who declined to say her name for fear of retribution. "But what's he done for us? Nothing. He doesn't care about us."

Seeing the shooting unfold in real time right outside her home, she said, lit a fire under her advocacy for a larger police presence and a camera at the intersection of 53rd Street and Washtenaw Avenue.

"I'm really scared now, because my husband works nights," she said. "Something really needs to be done here, because it's getting worse. We fear for our lives over here."

No one is in custody, Estrada said.

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