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Cut Off In Traffic? Police Commander Says Guns Replacing Flipping The Bird

By Alex Nitkin | March 9, 2017 5:46am | Updated on March 10, 2017 11:26am
 Jefferson Park District Cmdr. Bill Looney attributes the uptick in shootings to more drivers carrying guns in their cars.
Jefferson Park District Cmdr. Bill Looney attributes the uptick in shootings to more drivers carrying guns in their cars.
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JEFFERSON PARK — What led to a man being shot at in the 4100 block of North Central Avenue in Portage Park Monday night is still unclear, Jefferson Park District Cmdr. Bill Looney told residents this week.

But the incident had one thing in common with nearly every shooting reported in the Northwest Side district this year, from the Feb. 9 murder of 17-year-old Alvin Stoll to the often undocumented reports of random gunshots, Looney said.

They were almost all perpetrated from behind the wheel.

"In the past, when someone cut you off in traffic, you just gave them the finger," Looney said. "Nowadays, you pull out a gun."

The pattern has led to a sharp uptick in shootings and other crimes compared with this time last year, even as property crimes like robberies and burglaries have been less common, Looney said. Eight people were reported shot in the district during the first two months of 2017, compared to two people shot during the same period last year, according to DNAinfo records.

The drive-by shootings — so far a mix of road rage, domestic disputes and gang disputes — also have driven officers to adapt, Looney said.

"We've been focusing more on traffic, stopping a lot more cars and writing more tickets," Looney said. That's led to 11 gun confiscations in January and February, compared with just two guns confiscated last year, he said.

The district also saw car thefts jump from 47 in January and February 2015 to 70 during the same stretch of 2016 and 70 this year, driven in part by drivers leaving their cars running unattended.