Shooting on Leland discussed at regular Beat 1623 meeting
by BRIAN NADIG
The recent Beat 1623 meeting in the 16th (Jefferson Park) Police District took a dramatic turn when a tenant of a reported problem building in the 5300 block of West Leland Avenue stood up and said she is not responsible for the shootings and drug dealing in the area.
The Sept. 19 beat meeting was held the day after a 28-year-old man was shot several times in the 5300 block of West Leland Avenue in what police have described as an apparent drug deal gone awry. In April there also was a report of multiple gunshots being fired from one vehicle toward another on the same block.
Several residents expressed concern that drug dealing on the block could be related to one house, and it was reported that police are working with city officials to have building inspectors visit the property. The Sept. 18 shooting reportedly took place in front of the house.
Some of the residents reported that they have seen people walking from the area of the house toward the end of the block, where the drug transaction takes place.
However, the building’s tenant said that she and her family members, including her sister and her three children, are not involved in the problems on the block. "My family hasn’t done anything," she said.
The woman said that the recent shooting horrified her and that she wants to work with police and neighbors to make the block safer. She added that she had been expecting to move because the owner was going to sell the property but that she now has a lease.
District commander William Looney said that the gangway on one side of the house is particularly dark and that the lighting on the block in general could be improved. After the meeting several residents discussed buying and installing additional security lights on the block.
Several residents agreed with Looney’s assessment that criminal activity on the block quieted down for several months after the April 18 gunshots, but some of the homeowners reported an increase in suspicious activity since early September.
Looney told residents that they can expect extra police presence in the area and urged that they consider installing security cameras. "There is drug activity. There is gang activity. We do know people go to that block to buy drugs," he said.
"We need calls for service," said community policing sergeant Sherry Alvarez-Pena. She added that if immediate police response is not needed, residents can file what the Chicago Police Department calls a "community concern" at www.chicagopolice.org.
Looney thanked the 35 people who attended the beat meeting, which he said usually has just a few residents.
"We appreciate the support. It’s not you versus us. We’re working together," Looney said.