CHICAGO (CBS) — A man was shot and wounded on a Blue Line train Wednesday at the UIC-Halsted stop on the Near West Side – in another incident that is part of a spike in crime on the CTA that we have been covering for a while.
So what is being done about it? CBS 2’s Tara Molina was asking that question Wednesday night.
Kenneth Franklin, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308, spoke Wednesday about the spike – saying it is affecting transit workers and people who take the train every day.
In this latest incident, police said the 30-year-old man was getting off the train at the stop – located in the Eisenhower Expressway median and spanning the block between Halsted and Peoria streets – when he was shot in the back.
Police released surveillance images of the man they said pulled the trigger. He was wearing a designer hat, red hoodie, and sneakers. He wasn’t keeping a low profile when police say he pulled on the victim’s backpack and said something to him.
When the victim tried to get away, the man shot him, grabbed the backpack, and ran west out of the station.
On Wednesday night, a Chicago Police Department representative said, “Detectives feel optimistic that the combination of technology and community information in this case will lead us to identifying the shooter.”
But ATU Local 308 President Kenneth Franklin expressed concern about a larger pattern of crime on Chicago Transit Authority property.
“We are genuinely concerned about the passengers,” he said. “We are genuinely concerned about our employees.”
In January, neighbors gathered at the Town Hall (19th) District police station, at 850 W. Addison St. in Lakeview, to demand answers. Among those in attendance was a 65-year-old man named Greg Ignatius, who was attacked at the busy Belmont Red-Brown-Purple Line station.
“It just hit me and I just go, ‘Whack!’ And he did it four times in a row in quick succession,” said Ignatius told CBS 2’s Marissa Parra.
There were also numerous attacks, robberies, and beatings that made headlines in December and January – many of them on the Red Line subway between Roosevelt Road and Chicago Avenue.
And in broad daylight in January, police say a man exposed himself and assaulted a woman on the Red Line near Morse Avenue in Rogers Park. Police said a 24-year-old female was riding the northbound Red Line train towards the stop when she was encountered by a man who exposed his genitals.
Overall, the increase in crimes on the CTA has been dramatic over the past few years. There were 2,737 crimes reported in 2016, 3,495 in 2017, 4,388 in 2018, and 4,497 last year.
The workers, Franklin said, are scared too.
“We’re just hoping that the Chicago Transit Authority, CPD, the Mayor’s office is ready to put forth a stronger effort in preventing these types of incidents, because they’re becoming too common,” Franklin said.
CBS 2 has learned the CPD has added more officers to the Public Transit Unit and say they’ve focused more on transit crime.
We’ve checked the trains and we’ve seen them.
And we’re also told the camera system on the CTA network is helping leading to arrests.
But what else can be done to curb the spike? What will be done to make the CTA safer?
On Wednesday night, there were no new answers to those questions.
The man who was shot on the Blue Line Wednesday morning was rushed to Stroger Hospital of Cook County in serious condition.