Daytime crimes heat up summer

By Hassan S. Ali

Despite a drop in shootings and murders this summer, a growing number of crimes have occurred during daytime hours and in more populated areas on or near the U of C campus, according to police reports.

The past few months have seen five shootings and three murders, in comparison to last summer’s 11 shootings and 4 fatalities. The summer’s first major crime occurred just after midnight, June 15, at Leona’s Restaurant in the 1200 block of East 53rd Street. The restaurant night manager was reportedly counting money at the register when three men who entered through an open back door shot and killed him.

At 4:15 p.m. on June 30, two men were shot and injured on Ingleside Avenue, between East 52nd and 53rd streets, by two unknown male juveniles. In another early-afternoon incident, several unknown men opened fire on a minivan on Ellis Avenue between East 60th and 61st streets, at about 2:00 p.m. on July 27.

The most recent incidents occurred late last week. On Thursday, September 21, at 11:18 a.m., a man fatally shot a second man from behind before fleeing the scene near East 63rd Street and Cottage Grove Avenue. Another man was mugged at gunpoint last Saturday as he walked down South Blackstone Avenue between East 58th and 59th streets at 4:59 p.m.

While crimes generally occur in the residential areas surrounding campus, several attacks happened on University grounds.

According to police reports, a woman was in a Searle Chemistry Building laboratory at 5735 South Ellis Avenue, at 1:20 p.m. on August 12, when two men confronted her, sprayed her with a Mace-like chemical, and fled with her computer.

In early July, two men tried to hold up a man at gunpoint in front of International House on East 59th Street. Police later arrested one of the men.

Two related attacks and robberies occurred in front of the Regenstein Library and the Bartlett Quad at around 8 p.m. on Friday, September 15. In one of the incidents, according to police reports, three men pushed down, punched, and kicked a woman in Bartlett Quad before stealing her purse and fleeing in a getaway car.

Police also responded to a series of sexual assault reports between late July and September, in which women were approached from behind, forced against a wall or the ground and fondled, anytime between about 5:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

In a July 31 “Community Awareness” e-mail, University Director of Neighborhood Relations Duel Richardson said that police had reported 10 assaults since May, occurring south of the Museum of Science and Industry, east of Cornell Drive, west of Lake Shore Drive and north of 67th Street.

“The offenders have used their fists, bottles, a steel pole, and stones,” Richardson said in the e-mail. “In one case, the victim died of his injuries.”

“These incidents have generally occurred in the evening, but two cases happened in the mid-afternoon,” Richardson said. “It is not known whether the offenders in these incidents are the same or different individuals.”

Rob Law, a third-year in the College, was one of the few assault victims whose perpetrators police were able to track down. While talking on his cell phone at East 57th Street and Kimbark Avenue at around 4 p.m. in early August, Law said three black teenagers approached and asked him for street directions.

“The next thing I knew, I got hit [in the jaw], and they grabbed my cell phone,” he said, adding that several witnesses came to his aid and called police shortly after the attack. Within 20 minutes, the U of C Police Department detained the teens outside Harper Memorial Library. The officers also retrieved several cell phones, one of which belonged to Law.

Police made several arrests throughout the summer in connection with some of the crimes. Officers arrested and charged a man in connection with an attempted armed robbery, which occurred near the U of C Hospitals at East 59th Street and Maryland Avenue at 9:35 a.m. on August 30, in addition to a robbery near the Graduate School of Business at 58th Street and Woodlawn Avenue the night before.

Police arrested one man for an August 16 sexual assault reported near 5800 South Harper Avenue at 3:30 p.m. In separate incidents, a man assaulted and fondled two women during the early morning hours of July 31, first on East 57th Street between University and Ellis avenues, and second on South Ellis Avenue between East 57th and 58th streets.