District commanders discuss recent gang shooting at community safety meeting
by JASON MEREL
Two Northwest Side police district commanders addressed concerns stemming from a recent gang-related shooting and discussed how residents can help to reduce crime during a virtual community safety meeting held by Alderman Samantha Nugent (39th) on Aug. 26.
Residents are concerned about an incident in which three people were shot at about 2:25 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 15, in the 4400 block of North Kostner Avenue, according to 17th (Albany Park) District police.
Officers responded to a call of a person shot and discovered a gold Toyota Camry riddled with bullet holes, according to police.
A 23-year-old woman reported that she was driving to the expressway when a vehicle drove up behind her and fired several shots at her, police said. The woman was transported to Illinois Masonic Hospital in serious condition with a graze wound on the back of her neck and treated in stable condition, according to police.
A 19-year-old man reported that he was shot in the back and an 18-year-old woman reported that she was shot in the hip and in the buttock so they transported themselves to Illinois Masonic Hospital where the 19-year-old man was treated in critical condition and the 18-year-old woman was treated in serious condition, police said.
“One gang is driving a lot of the violence,” 17th District commander Ronald Pontecore Jr. said.
“Unfortunately, Cicero Avenue and Peterson Avenue are main drags for them. They’re looking for rival gang members and firing at cars.”
Pontecore said there was a recent incident where an officer was in a car and there was a case of mistaken identity.
An exchange of gunfire was reported in a parking lot in the 3900 block of North Lamon Avenue in the 16th (Jefferson Park) District on Monday, Aug. 16, according to Chicago police. Sources said the victim was an off-duty police officer.
“What’s being done? We arrest them,” Pontecore said. “We have multiple times. We know who these individuals are. Unfortunately, they’re getting caught in the revolving door of the Cook County criminal justice system.”
Pontecore said some offenders have been arrested for the unlawful use of a weapon and later released on electronic monitoring.
“When you commit an offense with a handgun, there is no reason for you to be back out on the street to do it again,” he said. “I’ll get off my soap box now.”
“On our end, I’ve been constantly advocating for more resources, whether it’s manpower or technology,” Nugent said. “What we’ve done collectively is had POD cameras put up in both 16th and 17th, with license plate readers, which are additional components.”
She said her office is in contact with the Cook County Sheriff’s Office to address reports of shots fired near expressway entrances in the ward.
A resident asked when people should decide to call police.
“If there’s a crime in progress, if there’s an offender on the scene, call 9-1-1. If you feel a threat against you, if you feel like you are unsafe, call 9-1-1,” Pontecore said.
“We do try to follow different community groups and every so often there’s that person posting, ‘Did anyone hear that gunfire? Was it fireworks?'” 16th District commander Maureen Biggane said. “Call us. Get us rolling that way to get validation on what you think you’ve seen or heard.”
A resident asked how the aldermanic office could help.
“If you recognize on your block that your street light is out, your street sign is bent, contact our office so we can get it fixed,” Nugent said. “It’s hard to sell drugs if your street is brightly lit. I want it to be like Disneyland.”
“Check your cameras. See if there’s anything that might be of value to us,” Biggane said. “Put motion lights on your home. If someone’s walking up your driveway, let them be illuminated.”
“If you do see graffiti, please take a picture of it and forward it to your CAPS office,” Pontecore said. “If it is gang graffiti, it might contain information about who is there, what they might be doing, etc.”