ROGERS PARK — The Far North Side, like the rest of the city, has lost mothers, fathers, friends and neighbors to gun violence.
To remember those who died in Edgewater, West Ridge and Rogers Park (portions of which are all within the Rogers Park and Lincoln police districts), police, residents and religious leaders are taking part in a "Faith In Action" night at 7 p.m. May 26 at Loyola Park to "create a multi-denominational coalition of faith leaders to help combat violence," police said.
So far this year at least 20 people have been shot in the three neighborhoods — three fatally — including Karina Soria-Bautista, a 21-year-old mom; 18-year-old Antonio Johnson; and Giovani Salgado, 21. All three were shot and killed along Ridge Avenue, which serves as a border between the neighborhoods.
Most recently, a 13-year-old boy was shot in the arm just a block away from the Rogers Park police station.
Officer Nicole Trainor, a police spokeswoman, said all the faith organizations in the Rogers Park District were invited to join, and the event was scheduled on a Thursday so the area's Orthodox Jewish residents could participate in accordance with Sabbath law, which begins at sundown Fridays.
The event will include words from a police chaplain, as well as periods of prayer, silence and reflection "to remember victims of gun violence," Trainor said.
The evening will culminate in the release of balloons at the lakefront in honor of those victims, which has tallied at least 86 (12 deaths) since Jan. 1, 2015.
An event at 7 p.m. May 26 will honor victims of gun violence on the Far North Side. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]
Impacts Of Gun Violence In The Past Year
Three people have died in the three neighborhoods so far this year.
In January, Salgado was found by police in the 6800 block of North Ridge Boulevard with mortal bullet wounds in his back and chest. Then, on March 23, 18-year-old Evanston teen Antonio Johnson was chased down the street before collapsing and being shot in the head in front of the Benedictine Sisters monastery. Two weeks later another man was shot just blocks from where Johnson died.
Most recently was the fatal shooting of Soria-Bautista, a West Ridge resident and mother of a 5-year-old boy who was killed as she waited at a red light in front of the Heart O' Chicago Motel.
An estimated 20 people have been shot across the Far North Side in 2016, according to DNAinfo and police data, including a 19-year-old Loyola student.
In 2015, nine people were killed by gunfire in the area with at least 65 total shot.
Rogers Park saw 41 shooting victims, six fatal, in 2015, while West Ridge had 13 shootings (two fatal) and Edgewater had 11 shooting victims, with one murder in the same block Sorina-Bautista lost her life.
Police and aldermen have maintained much of the violence is attributed to ongoing feuds between rival gangs who traverse the North Side, primarily between groups from surrounding suburbs including Evanston, Skokie, Niles and Lincolnwood.
Organizations in Rogers Park have expressed the challenges and fears they've faced over the years being caught in the middle, saying at times they feel like an "active gang war" was swirling around them.
In November, a brazen daytime shooting at Willye B. White Park symbolized how the neighborhood was "going in two different directions," neighbors said.
Police officers from Evanston and Rogers Park line up together for a community roll call Wednesday evening at the site of a shooting on Howard Street last year. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]
While the "Faith In Action" night, a citywide initiative started by Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office several summers ago, is meant to inspire hope and unite North Side neighbors, organizing in the face of violence is far from a foreign concept to these communities.
After Johnson was killed in March, sisters from Benedictine organized a silent prayer walk and subsequent prayer ceremony at the site where he was killed.
The event was attended by dozens of Evanston and Chicago neighbors alike, with children, parents and seniors singing in the rain as Sister Benita Coffey blessed with holy water the curb where Johnson died.
In September, a group of moms known as the Baby Wranglers organized a family night out at Leone Beach Park after member Grace Husar's son and husband were present in the park when two men were shot.
"These will not be the last gunshots we hear in Rogers Park," Husar said said during the night out. "I want Jonah to feel safe. I want to remind him that the good guys outnumber the bad guys and that our friends in Rogers Park love him and love our family. We're part of a community."
Police have also increased outdoor roll calls, some at the site of recent shootings — like in the 5900 block of Ridge where Soria-Bautista died and at the Howard Street border between Rogers Park and Evanston.
An outdoor event was organized by parents after a shooting left two wounded in Leone Beach Park. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]
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