MOUNT GREENWOOD — Ald. Matt O'Shea (19th) stood by a statement he made Monday, saying the off-duty police officer involved in the fatal shooting of a 25-year-old man had "no choice" but to shoot the gunman.
"It's unfortunate this incident happened. I believe everyone has seen the photographs. People have seen the video out there. People's lives were in danger, and unfortunately the officer felt deadly force was needed," O'Shea said Monday afternoon.
The Southwest Side alderman also said he is aware of online rumors about retaliatory threats made against Mount Greenwood residents. He asked for those spreading the rumors to stop engaging in speculation as well as "using divisive rhetoric."
"At this time, the Chicago Police Department is aware of these rumors and is monitoring the situation closely," O'Shea said in an email to constituents late Monday.
"They have found no evidence to suggest that these threats are credible. Despite that, additional police resources have and will be present throughout the coming days to help ensure the safety of our community," the email says.
The threats follow the shooting of Joshua Beal, who was in town Saturday from Indianapolis to serve as a pallbearer at his cousin's funeral. A traffic altercation led to a fight and later shots being fired, officials said. Beal was later pronounced dead at Christ Hospital.
A protest led by activist Ja'Mal Green followed on Sunday. About 20 black protesters were met by roughly 300 people who arrived to stage a counter protest. Racial slurs were directed at protesters who responded with their own incendiary remarks as well as calls for charges against the officer involved in the shooting.
"What I experienced last night and today, I wouldn't wish that on anybody," said JoJo Wilkerson of Morgan Park on Sunday night. Wilkerson is Beal's second cousin and was among the protestors greeted with insults in Mount Greenwood.
O'Shea said residents can expect more protests in the coming days. He encouraged those on both sides to act with civility, saying anything else only makes it more difficult for police to do their jobs.
In his email, O'Shea said: "All Americans have a constitutional right to protest. I’d ask anyone who decides to participate in such a demonstration to do so peacefully and respectfully. Engaging in any type of dispute with protesters will only fuel conflict."
O'Shea said he quietly attended the protest on Sunday. He said the crowd supporting police was made up of a combination of faces both familiar and unfamiliar. Many touted the slogan, "Blue Lives Matter," he said.
"But a lot of them weren't Blue Lives Matter folks, they were just anti-black," he said.
That said, he did credit police in the Morgan Park District for handling both groups without incident. According to police on the scene, no arrests were made Sunday night in Mount Greenwood and there were no injuries reported.
"My hope going forward is that the greater community can come together."
The Independent Police Review Authority is investigating the shooting, and the officers involved have been placed on administrative duties for 30 days, police said.
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