Government Officials, Community Leaders Promise Coordination To Combat Violence
Updated 07/21/14 – 5:15 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) – People from government and community based groups say a meeting among local and federal law enforcement, city agencies, educators and others produced some positive steps toward reducing gang violence in Chicago, on the heels of a weekend when at least 43 people were shot, four of them fatally.
Members of the FBI, DEA, ATF, the U.S. Postal Service, the Secret Service, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement were on-hand for the summit at Chicago Police Headquarters Monday morning. Officials from the education and faith-based communities also took part.
Mayor Emanuel opened the meeting by acknowledging there is no single solution to gang violence but a variety of things to be done.
“It’s more complex than how many ATF agents we have and how many kids we have enrolled in our mentoring program,” Emanuel said. “It is about where the guns are coming from, where the law enforcement is, where our neighborhoods and communities are, where our parents are.”
Diane Latiker, founder of “Kids Off the Block” told reporters that the meeting was constructive, even if there were no “new” ideas discussed.
“It is not so much that things are different as it is the things are being heard and that there will be decisions made based upon the conversations that are being had collaboratively so it is a wonderful meeting,” said Latiker.
CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports real solutions were offered at the meeting, including a plan to coordinate efforts among the various agencies and make sure those agencies reach the people make they know about numerous programs that provide social services and jobs.
“There’s 14,000 help wanted jobs within a ten mile radius,” said Emanuel. “How do we get people to know about it enrolled so they can get those jobs?”
Emanuel says the faith-based community plays a big part in reaching kids who are causing the trouble. Pastors like Bernard Jakes will expand programs that talk directly to gang members.
“We’re talking right now to get two groups to have a cease fire,” said Rev. Jakes. “Once they trust you, then they’ll say we will chill on what we’re doing if you can get them to do x, y and z.”
WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, after the meeting, McCarthy said what impressed him most was there was general agreement the problem of violence in Chicago is not just a matter for the Police Department. He said there was talk of instilling hope in the neighborhoods, as well as creating jobs and educational programs.
Andrea Zopp, president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League, said many of the resources to address the problem already exist in the community. McCarthy agreed, and said the city must do a much better job of organizing those opportunities, and making sure people know about them.
Among those killed by gun violence over the weekend was 11-year-old Shamiya Adams, who was struck in the head by a stray bullet as she was at a sleepover in West Garfield Park. Shamiya was at a friend’s house in the 3900 block of West Gladys Avenue when a bullet pierced a window or wall, and struck her in the head, apparently while she was playing with friends in a bedroom Friday night.
She was supposed to attend a church picnic on Saturday, but never lived to see it. She was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital after she was shot, and was pronounced dead Saturday morning.
Family and friends gathered at First Baptist Congregational Church, the church Shamiya attended, for a prayer vigil on Sunday.
“For this young, 11-year-old to be killed in a senseless, vicious, crime, it grieves our heart, it leaves a hole in our soul,” said Rev. George Daniels. “A bullet pierced the window and the wall and took her little life. That is so senseless, its evil, it’s despicable.”
More than $8,000 has been raised to fund a reward for information that may lead to the arrest of a suspect in Shamiya’s death.
Police are reviewing footage from a blue light camera right across from that home.
His voice cracking with emotion, the mayor said Saturday that he’s reached out to too many parents, like Shamiya’s, after their children have been killed by gun violence in Chicago.
“Every child in the city of Chicago deserves a childhood. Now how many times – we look in kids’ eyes sometimes, and it’s been stolen from them too often,” Emanuel said. “The familiarity of laughter’s been replaced by the familiarity of gunfire.”
The most recent fatal shooting was around 2:30 a.m. Sunday morning, when a gunman walked into a bar in the 4400 block of South Kedzie Avenue and opened fire. Richard Velasquez, 24, was shot in the chest, and was pronounced dead at the scene. A man in his 30s also was shot, and was being treated at Mount Sinai.
Another man was killed Saturday evening in the Austin neighborhood. Jaquan Hardy, 21, was among five people shot in two incidents police believe were connected.
Hardy and a 43-year-old woman were getting into a cab in the 900 block of North Mayfield Avenue around 6 p.m. Saturday, when someone shot at them. Hardy was struck in the head, and died at West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park. The woman and the 53-year-old also were shot, and were being treated at West Suburban.
A short time after that shooting, someone shot two men while they were playing basketball a few blocks away, in the 900 block of North Massasoit Avenue. A 26-year-old man was shot in the foot and thigh. A 33-year-old man was shot in the foot. Both men were being treated at West Suburban. Detectives believe the two shootings were related.
The other fatality over the weekend was 30-year-old Brandon Wilson, who was shot in the back and neck while sitting in a vehicle in the 0-100 block of North Laramie Avenue around 3 a.m. Saturday.
In addition to these victims, at least 34 other people were wounded in shootings across Chicago over the weekend.
Another man also died after police used a stun gun to subdue him while breaking up a fight in Brighton Park on Saturday. Police were called to a home in the 4200 block of South Richmond Street shortly after 2 p.m. Saturday.
When officers arrived, they found 41-year-old Francisco Rocha was involved in a fight with several other males. Officers tried to break up the fight, but could not control Rocha, so they deployed a stun gun to subdue him.
Rocha was taken to Saint Anthony Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly before 3 p.m. Saturday.
The Independent Police Review Authority was investigating the incident.