March 1, 2011

After shootings, students seek safe transportation

Two men were fatally shot in Woodlawn in separate incidents on Wednesday and Thursday last week, prompting the second campus-wide security alert in two weeks from the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) and increased security efforts on campus.

At 4:20 p.m. on Wednesday, a man was fatally shot on South 63rd Street between South Cottage Grove and Drexel Avenues. Less than 24 hours later, a man sitting in a parked car on Cottage Grove between East 61st and 62nd Streets was shot and pronounced dead after being transported to Stroger Hospital.

In the security alert, UCPD Chief Marlon Lynch informed students that the incidents were part of a string of recent shootings that had occurred in Woodlawn over the past week. Lynch also wrote that police suspected gang activity was involved in the shootings, and urged students to use Safe Ride and the University’s shuttle services, as well as UCPD’s umbrella service.

Students heeded Lynch’s warning over the weekend, as UCPD received 29 requests for umbrella coverage compared to the previous weekend, when they received 16 requests—an 81 percent increase.

There was also an increase in the number of Safe Ride calls this weekend, University spokesman Steve Kloehn wrote in an e-mail message, although he said he could not speculate as to the reason for the increase.

UCPD spokesman Bob Mason said that there would also be increased UCPD and Chicago Police Department patrols in the off-campus area where the shootings occurred.

Officer Daryl Baety, a CPD spokesperson, would not comment on whether or not gang violence was involved because the investigation into both shootings was ongoing.

Both attacks are part of a series of violent incidents that have taken place south of East 61st Street this month. At 3:29 p.m. on Thursday, nearly six hours before the second shooting, an armed man stole a cell phone from a man walking on East 63rd Street and South Ellis Avenue. Lynch sent out the first security alert of the quarter on February 14, after a University student was robbed at gunpoint.

The ongoing investigation is being conducted by CPD because both shootings were homicides. Baety said that no arrests had been made in either case.