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Neighbors On Edge After Halloween Shootings In Uptown

By Josh McGhee | November 2, 2016 8:38am
 Numerous shooting have occurred in the 1100 block of West Wilson Avenue this year.
Numerous shooting have occurred in the 1100 block of West Wilson Avenue this year.
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DNAinfo/Josh McGhee

UPTOWN — Uptown's violent October crescendoed with a violent Halloween that left a man dead and a teen wounded.

The North Side neighborhood wasn't alone in its uptick in crime. The city had 78 murders in October, marking a 278 percent increase over last year. Uptown had three homicides and four people wounded in shootings in October.

Around 7 p.m. Monday, Jacoby Baker, 24, was walking in the 1100 block of West Wilson Avenue when someone in a black SUV drove by and fired shots, according to officer Ana Pacheco, a Chicago Police spokeswoman.

He was struck in his side and taken to Illinois Masonic Medical Center in critical condition but later pronounced dead, officials said.

About 8 hours earlier, a 15-year-old boy was shot in his right leg when another man walked up to him and shot him in the 4500 block of North Malden Street, Pacheco said.

The shootings were gang-related, according to police and Ald. James Cappleman (46th).

"What we've been hearing from many police at CAPS meetings is that in the last two years, younger gang members no longer listen to the older gang members, and have become more prone to the use of violence for minor disagreements," Cappleman said in a newsletter Tuesday.

"Rather than shooting over the establishment of drug sale territories, today it's often about feeling slighted by another opposing gang member," he said.

Town Hall Police District Cmdr. Robert Cesario said he would be "speculating" when asked if he had a reason for the rash of shootings, saying the department did not have any more information on Monday's shooting at a CAPS meeting Tuesday night at Courtenay Language Arts Center, 4420 N. Beacon St.

Before Monday's homicide, the most recent fatal shooting occurred Oct. 26. Around 3:40 p.m., Tramell Williams was found with multiple gunshot wounds in the 4400 block N. Racine Ave. He was taken to Illinois Masonic, where he was pronounced dead.

Around 8:50 p.m. Oct. 17, Greg Tucker Jr., a 25-year-old former basketball player for Whitney Young and Lincoln Park High School, was shot in the 4500 block of North Hazel St. The father of a young daughter frequented the Clarendon Park Fieldhouse just around the corner from the shooting.

In non-fatal shootings:

• Around 6:15 p.m. Oct. 29, a 25-year-old man was shot in the 4500 block of North Sheridan Road. He was grazed in his arm and taken to Illinois Masonic in stable condition, police said.

• Around 12:25 a.m. Oct. 22, a 28-year-old man in the 800 block of West Cuyler Ave. when a man got out of his car and fired shots. The man was struck in his left knee and taken to Illinois Masonic, where his condition was listed as "stable," police said.

• Around 8:53 p.m. Oct. 15, a 24-year-old man was shot twice in his leg while in the 1100 block West Wilson Avenue.

In response to the shootings, Cappleman said he's implemented a number of initiatives to help quell the violence and has been promised the ward would get seven new police officers from recent police academy graduation classes.

The initiatives include creating a public safety task force among businesses along the 4600 block of North Broadway and from Hazel Street to Racine Avenue along Wilson Avenue to teach them methods to reduce crime; working with the city's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection to require businesses to work with police "or face consequences;" and meeting regularly with Truman College security, according to the alderman's newsletter.

Tuesday's CAPS meeting got heated, with about 50 residents demanding answers and more police presence after the recent shootings, but few answers were offered.

Neighbors complained about quality-of-life issues such as "open air drug markets" near their homes and in front of Truman, 1145 W. Wilson Ave.

One parent, who visits the campus often to pick up her son and declined to be named, citing concerns for her son's safety, called recent events around the school "appalling."

After witnessing drug dealing and loitering, and hearing about shootings near the school, she feels unsafe waiting for her son outside the building, she said.

"These students are working hard to better themselves and are walking through a minefield to get to school," she said.

The woman said she has has left three voicemails with the school's security officers, but hadn't heard back.

Andres Durbak, director of security for the college, said the school works "seamlessly" with the Chicago Police Department, Cappleman and the community to protect the students.

Security has arrested trespassers at the school, some of whom have been sent to jail for as long as four months, but they have no jurisdiction off campus, he said.

While many neighbors expressed concerns about the shootings at the CAPS meeting, some said they were unsure if crime had really gotten worse.

"Maybe it has gotten worse or maybe I've become more aware," said William, a 5-year resident who refused to give his last name. "Now, I am hearing about more unintended victims."

So far this year, the neighborhood has had seven homicides and 32 people have been wounded in shootings.

In 2015, 25 people were wounded in Uptown and another nine people were killed in shootings in the neighborhood. In 2014, 18 people were wounded in shootings and another five people were killed. In 2013, 24 people were wounded and one person was killed. In 2012, 23 people were wounded in shootings and five people were killed, according to DNAinfo's map of shootings in the city since 2010.

The most shootings in the neighborhood in recent years occurred in 2011, when 44 people were shot and another three were killed.

Tuesday's meeting was William's first. He said he began paying more attention after his niece moved into the neighborhood, he said.

A few months back, she went to grab a sandwich at Jimmy John's, 1148 W. Wilson Ave., and shots rang out near the corner of Leland and Magnolia Avenues as he waited for her on the porch.

"Around that time, I really got more aware," he said. "It concerns me. It upsets me. It makes me afraid for children, the elderly and the unintended."

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