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Murder Caught On Video Shows Block Parties Bring Trouble, Neighbors Argue

By Mina Bloom | September 1, 2017 5:59am | Updated on September 1, 2017 6:01am
 A neighbor's surveillance video captured the murder of 18-year-old Adrian Lopez in Humboldt Park on Aug. 26.
A neighbor's surveillance video captured the murder of 18-year-old Adrian Lopez in Humboldt Park on Aug. 26.
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HUMBOLDT PARK — Neighbors say rowdy block parties — attended by people who don't live in the neighborhood — are to blame for recent Humboldt Park shootings, including two within days of each other that left one person dead and another wounded.

The most recent shooting happened just after 7 p.m. Aug. 26 during a block party, the fourth this summer, which brought a bounce house, BBQ tent and about 100 people from other neighborhoods, many in warring gangs, to the area, according to neighbors.

In a surveillance video shared with DNAinfo Chicago, a group of people are seen standing by an alley next to a low-income housing building while a boy and another person toss a football in the middle of the street. At the 0:25 minute mark, a flash of light comes from the alley, and one of the people in the group drops to the ground. Other people rush over to help.

Adrian Lopez, of the 6200 block of North Claremont Avenue, was initially taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in critical condition, police said. Lopez was pronounced dead at the hospital at 2:06 p.m. Sunday, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.

Neighbors say few of the 100 people at the block party — who are all out of frame in the surveillance footage — actually live on the block.

Carolle Derradji, 46, lives nearby in the 3200 block of West Potomac Avenue with her husband and two young sons. Derradji and Adam Corona, a longtime resident of the block and a former 26th Ward aldermanic candidate, said they were never formally invited to the block party. Will M., a neighbor who declined to provide his last name, said a flier was posted to his door.

"If these guys weren't here, this shooting wouldn't have happened," Corona said of the block party, adding that many of the people there were "drinking, loitering, gang-banging and disturbing the peace" hours before the shooting occurred.

"We came to invest. I want to stay here, but also I want a better environment. I have children," Corona said.

The block party was organized by Victor Heredia, a longtime resident of the block who called the allegations "ridiculous."

"The fact is the violence is in our society. It can't be blamed on any one thing," said Heredia who has been organizing the parties since 1984. "Obviously it's unfair. It's like going to the South Side and saying all social events there are wrong."

Heredia said he invited the whole block by knocking on each door, but not everyone answered. If people who don't live on the block showed up, it was because they're friends or family members of people who do, he said.

"The difference [in the neighborhood] is astronomical," Heredia said, referring to gun violence. "I know the evolution of the neighborhood. But it's not just about diversity. It's about integration."

The block where Lopez was killed looks a lot different than it did 10 or 20 years ago as modern single-family homes continue to pop up between vintage flats.

Corona said there's less violence on the block than there was when he first moved in 17 years ago, but the recent spate of shootings, which he estimates has reached about five over the last 30 days, is unprecedented.

Derradji, who bought her home 2½ years ago, said she moved to Humboldt Park from Oak Park for the neighborhood's diversity in addition to the sprawling park. She and her neighbors emphasized that they have nothing against the people living in the low-income housing building on the block — just the violence.

"I want it to be diverse. I don't want people to just own houses. I want section 8, I want everything like that," she said. "I just want my children to be safe. I don't want people to get shot. This is out of control."

A few days after Lopez was gunned down, on Wednesday, a 24-year-old woman was shot around 1 a.m. while sitting in her car around the corner from the block party in the 1300 block of North Spaulding Avenue, near a memorial for Lopez.

The woman was taken in good condition to Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center, where she was treated for a gunshot wound in her face, according to police.

Though police characterized the shooting as a drive-by, Derradji's surveillance video footage shows gunfire hitting a parked car. After the shooting, more than a dozen people come running out into the street and scramble to get into their cars before driving off.

The three said they called 911 several times earlier in the day after noticing that several of the cars in the video were illegally parked on the block near the memorial, but police never came.

"The scariest part is we've been calling [911] non-stop, telling [police] they're getting more and more agitated. And nobody gets sent," Derradji said. "The alderman doesn't come either. Where is he? Why isn't he here?"

Efforts to reach Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) were unsuccessful.