May 28, 2014

Memorial Day weekend sees spike in crime

Two shootings occurred in Hyde Park over Memorial Day weekend, one on Saturday night and one on Sunday night, leaving two people in critical condition and four total victims. Over the weekend police also removed large groups of high school students holding bonfires from Promontory Point, causing them to file through East 53rd and East 55th streets and disrupt traffic.

On Saturday night at about 11:15 p.m., 20-year-old Dante Williams was shot in the back in the 5400 block of South Harper Avenue. A Chicago Police Department (CPD) public affairs officer said that Williams was in his car when the perpetrator pulled alongside and fired shots into Williams’ car. Williams drove himself to the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) and was released the next day.

Although the University does not have a Level I adult trauma center, the UCMC was required to treat Williams because he came to the hospital, UCMC spokesperson John Easton said. Easton added that not all gunshot wounds require Level I trauma care, and he was unsure what type of care Williams’ wound required.As of Sunday night, no one was in custody for the shooting.

Two hours prior to Williams’ shooting, a large group of teenagers caused disturbances on East 53rd and East 55th Streets. The teenagers had been holding a bonfire and were removed from Promontory Point by CPD and UCPD officers after the group grew too large and rowdy. Third-year Khatcher Margossian witnessed a large group of teenagers walking down East 53rd Street and estimated that he saw 100–200 kids. Second-year Allen Worth witnessed a group of students walking down East 55th Street and said that he saw “hundreds” of teenagers.

CPD and UCPD officers shepherded the students west along both East 55th and East 53rd Streets and shut down parts of East 53rd Street to help direct traffic flows around the teenagers.

“[The teenagers] were talking, laughing with each other, you know, pretty standard. They did seem pretty hostile to the police. At one point it looked like they were putting up what seemed like gun signs at the police,” Worth said. “By and large it was a large group of students who were walking with some purpose, but…not a lot of purpose.”

On Sunday night at 9:45 p.m. three males were shot on East 62nd Street and South Dorchester Avenue. The victims were together outdoorswhen shots were fired from a passing vehicle, a CPD public affairs officer said. The shooting is being investigated as gang-related.

One of the victims, a 16-year-old male, had gunshot wounds to his chest and face and was in serious condition at Northwestern Hospital as of Monday morning. A 25-year-old man had a gunshot wound to the buttocks and was also at Northwestern Hospital in serious condition. A 17-year-old-male had a graze wound to the leg and walked to the UCMC, where he was in stable condition.

The shooting occurred about the same time as when police shut down another bonfire attended by hundreds of high schoolers. Second-year graduate student Noah Mitchell, who witnessed groups of high school students walking down East 55th Street on Saturday and Sunday nights, said that the group on Sunday was smaller than the Saturday group but still somewhat rowdy.

“They were doing teenager like things like screaming and running across the street when they didn’t have walk signs. So traffic was stopped and everything,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said that a similar incident occurred on Memorial weekend last year, when a large group of high schoolers were escorted west, away from the Point, by the police.

No security alert was issued for either incident. UCPD spokesperson Bob Mason said on Tuesday that he was not aware of any shootings over the weekend and that there were no official UCPD incident reports on the shootings.

Editor’s Note: Allen Worth has recently been appointed chief operating officer of the Maroon business team, but has not yet assumed official duties.