Shooting suspect arrested Thursday

By Joel Lanceta

A man was shot yesterday, on Ellis Avenue between 47th and 48th Street. According to the Safety Awareness Alert, two men were arguing on the 4700 block of Ellis when one pulled out a handgun and shot the other. The victim was taken to the hospital and is currently in critical care. According to Rudy Nimocks, the executive director of the University Police Department, the City of Chicago Police Department (CPD) is currently investigating.

The shooting happened four days after the City of Chicago Police Department (CPD) had arrested a local Woodlawn resident in connection with a homicide in the 5400 block of Drexel Avenue at 2:55 p.m. on May 17.

Kevin Smith, age 20, of the 6600 block of South Langley Avenue, was arrested May 19, two days after he reportedly shot and killed Robert Lee, also age 20, on Drexel Avenue.

Duel Richardson, director of neighborhood relations in the Office of the Vice President of the University, sent an e-mail to the Safety Awareness Alert listhost after Lee’s homicide, then sent another e-mail when Smith was apprehended.

This is the second homicide in Hyde Park this year; the first was the gang-related shooting of Dione Bufkin in front of CVS Pharmacy at Kimbark Plaza on March 6. While the homicide rate this year is the same as it was this time last year, the murder underscores the rise of violent crimes and growing concerns for safety in Hyde Park after recent years of a “historically low” crime rate, Richardson said.

Lee, formerly of the 6500 block of Ingleside Avenue, was shot in the chest at least once, according to Bob Richards, the law enforcement coordinator for the South East Chicago Commission. Witnesses say that they saw the assailant spot Lee, exit his black and gray four-door Chrysler, fire a handgun at Lee; and then flee the scene. Lee was taken to Cook County Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:33 p.m. the same day.

According to the CPD crime report and a Chicago Tribune article, the incident took place over an allegation of theft earlier on May 17. Lee was gambling with six other men a few blocks away earlier that day, where he allegedly stole $25 and a bag of marijuana valued at $10 from the other players. His actions reportedly angered one of the players who went out in pursuit of Lee throughout the neighborhood for the stolen merchandise. Smith, who was a participant in the dice game, was identified as confronting and shooting Lee on Drexel Avenue.

“CP Area 1 Violent Crimes Unit detectives, through their investigation, were able to identify by name the offender through accounts by witnesses to the shooting,” Richards said. “The individual, once he learned he was being sought, turned himself in peacefully to Area 1 detectives at the CPD Branch 66.”

Smith has been charged with first degree murder, which was approved this week by the Assistant State Attorney Felony Review. An arraignment is still pending.

Richardson said that many people were alerted about the homicide through the Safety Awareness listhost, though he has not received student response about the murder. Since early April, when Vice President for Community Affairs Hank Webber alerted the campus about a recent series of assaults and robberies, the listhost has added approximately 650 new subscribers.

“Since April, when a different series of robberies by juveniles started subsiding, we’ve only had a handful of crimes,” Richardson said. He added that though incidents of violent crime are more visible this year, the total crime rate in the college’s community has “only modestly gone up over the same period last year.”