Thursday, February 21, 2019

Crime News Update

Editor's note: The crime news reported by the Southwest Chicago Post---taken directly from Chicago Police Department incident reports---is not by any means an exhaustive catalogue of all crime reported in the Chicago Lawn (8th) District. For example, it typically does not include news of crimes committed in the eastern and southern sectors of the district---because the Southwest Chicago Post's coverage area is primarily the neighborhoods that border Midway Airport and secondarily because including the relatively large volume of crime news from elsewhere in the district would be a logistical challenge. We make this note to offer a little helpful perspective and remind everyone that while crime is definitely a concern in all parts of the district (as it always has been), crime remains relatively low overall in the western section of the district. May all of us work together diligently to keep it that way. May all of us also remember that a person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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Scottsdale man charged with murder

A 21-year-old Scottsdale man was charged with murder after he was arrested by police in
Mario Vargas
the 8100 block of South Komensky at 3:47 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5.

Mario Vargas, of the 4100 block of West Crestline, was spotted by police on patrol, a CPD spokesman said.

He is charged with gunning down 21-year-old Gage Park resident Juan Cruz at the mouth of an alley near 58th and Washtenaw at about 10:40 p.m. Oct. 20, 2018. At the time, Vargas lived near the scene of the slaying.

Prosecutors alleged that Vargas, on orders from another man, ran outside to ambush Cruz' minivan, after Cruz and the other man had been involved in a 10-minute car chase in the neighborhood. The dispute was allegedly over Cruz letting the air out of the tires of an ex-girlfriend's vehicle.

Vargas allegedly fired into the vehicle, hitting Cruz in the shoulder. An 18-year-old woman in the vehicle was not injured. Cruz was transported to the University of Chicago Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Bond was denied, and Vargas is currently in custody of the Cook County Department of Corrections. His next scheduled court date is February 26.

Bust two who allegedly checked car door handles
Two 20-year-old men were charged with disorderly conduct after they allegedly were seen walking down the 6100 block of West 64th Street, lifting vehicle door handles. Ramon D. Vera, of the 3600 block of South Seeley, and Leonardo Marquez, of the 6100 block of South Massasoit, were identified by a witness and arrested in the alley behind 6237 W. 64th Place at 12:57 a.m. Friday, Feb. 15.

Berwyn man hit with DUI charge after crash
Carlos Caterino

A 46-year-old Berwyn man was charged with DUI and failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident at the scene of a crash in front of 6015 W. 55th St. at about 6 a.m. Friday, Feb. 15. 

Carlos Caterino, of the 1900 block of South Highland, also was charged with driving on a suspended license.



Electricity salesman robbed at gunpoint
A 30-year-old Roseland man working as a door-to-door salesman was robbed at gunpoint as he walked down a sidewalk in the 4600 block of South Lavergne at 10:20 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14. Police encountered the victim several blocks away, at 4735 S. Cicero, and he told them that he had been working the area, selling services of Constellation Electricity, when a man approached, pointed a gun at his chest and said, “Give me everything you’ve got.” The victim tossed him his wallet and ran away east. Police searching the area later found the victim’s wallet and returned it to him. The victim examined it and said that it was missing a credit card, $20 cash, and a Ventra card. The robber was described as a Hispanic man about 5-foot-5 and 130 pounds, with a medium complexion. He wore a black hoody, a black ski mask and black pants.

Angry cook scares off gunman
A bat-wielding restaurant owner/cook frightened off a would-be robber at Tony’s Kitchen, 6325 S. Central. The owner, a 54-year-old West Lawn man, told police that the robber initially posed as a customer when he entered the eatery at 10:50 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 14. He asked to use the bathroom. When he came out, he pulled a handgun and demanded money. The owner said he had none because the restaurant had just opened—and he then brandished a bat and waved it at him. The offender then ran away west through a nearby alley. He was described as a white man age 22-24, about 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, with a light complexion. He wore a black hoody, a black ski mask and blue jeans.

Bust man who allegedly punched state trooper
Rashad Smith

A 30-year-old Near North Side man was charged with battery after he allegedly punched an off-duty state policeman in the head after a fender-bender that occurred near 55th and Parkside at 5:50 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13.

Rashad D. Smith, of the 1600 block of North Orchard, was detained until Chicago Police arrived on the scene.

Back from the doctor’s, find home ransacked
Burglars broke into a house in the 5400 block of South Newcastle, ransacked several rooms and stole assorted jewelry. The crime was discovered by the victim, a 77-year-old man, when he and his wife returned from a doctor’s appointment at about 3 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14.

Homeowner scares away burglars
Burglars tried to force their way into a home in the 5200 block of South Neva but were frightened off by the homeowner, a 55-year-old man. The crime occurred at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 11. The victim told police he was in his basement when he heard noises upstairs, at his front and back doors. When he ran upstairs to investigate, he saw two would-be burglars get into a gray Mitsubishi sedan with temporary license plates from Indiana. The vehicle then sped away south on Neva and possibly west on 53rd Street. The burglars were described only as white men age 19-23.

Phone, jewelry swiped from house
Burglars broke into a home in the 6600 block of South Kolin and stole an iPhone and assorted jewelry. The crime was discovered by the victim, a 37-year-old woman, when she came home at 3:45 p.m. Monday, Feb. 11.

Cash, video game console stolen

Burglars broke into a home in the 6600 block of South Kildare and stole a video game console and controllers, as well as $200 cash. The crime was discovered by the victim, a 49-year-old woman, at 6:25 p.m. Monday, Feb. 11.

Door kicked in, home ransacked
Burglars kicked open the front door of a home in the 6200 block of South Kolin and stole a small amount of cash. The crime was discovered by the victim, a 26-year-old woman, at about 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13. It was initially unclear what, if anything else, may have been stolen because the home was ransacked.

No sign of forced entry in 51st Street heist

A 40-year-old Vittum Park woman told police that someone entered her home in the 5000 block of West 51st Street and stole a laptop computer. She said she did not know how the burglar entered. There was no sign of forced entry.

Flimsy bag foils robbers
Two gunmen held up the Boost Mobile store at 5101 S. Cicero at 1:26 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, but most of what they stole was recovered and returned. Two Boost sales associates told police that the bandits pulled guns and demanded all the phones in the store. They complied and stuffed phones into a black plastic garbage bag provided by the robbers. The bandits then fled the store, running east on 51st Street and then north through the alley behind Keating. As they got into a getaway vehicle, the bag broke—spilling most of the phones on the ground. They sped away without picking up the phones. The robbers were described as black men age 20-25, about 5-foot-8 and 155 pounds. One had black hair in dreadlocks and a light complexion. The other had short black hair and a dark complexion. They wore dark clothing.

Convicted sex offender allegedly violates order of protection

A 39-year-old Garfield Ridge man was charged with violating an order of protection after he
Mario Pecina
was arrested in the 5400 block of South Laramie at 11:08 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6.

Mario Pecina, of the same block, was apprehended because he had been “inside the residence of a 67-year-old female relative who has an active order of protection against him,” a CPD spokesman said. “He was also under the influence of alcohol.”

He was ordered held without bond and was set to appear in court earlier this month. 

According to public records, Pecina has been arrested by CPD 10 times since 2014, on such charges as domestic battery, criminal trespass to a residence and failure of a sex offender to register with authorities. According to the Illinois State Police, Pecina was convicted in 2005 of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old child in Alabama.

Charge man with domestic battery
A 22-year-old West Lawn man was charged with domestic battery after he allegedly hit his 19-year-old wife and took her cellphone during an argument in their home in the 3900 block of West 70th Street. Juan M. Lopez was arrested and charged.

Pedestrian shot at by gang members
A 22-year-old West Lawn man was shot at by gang members who accosted him on a sidewalk in the 5400 block of South Tripp at 10:10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2. The victim told police that one of five young men who approached him asked, “What you is?” and that the victim replied, “You guys are lame.” The victim then called 911 and while on the phone, the gang members shot at him twice. He hid behind a house, and they ran away. Descriptions of the offenders were vague.

Woman says she escaped robbers
A 40-year-old Clearing woman told police that a man tried to rob her while she was in her car in an alley in the 6200 block of West 64th Place at 10:25 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7. The victim said that because her driver’s side door was frozen shut, she crawled into the car through the rear hatch. Once she did, she saw a man demanding that she open the driver’s door. When she explained she couldn’t do it, the man pulled a handgun and threatened her. She told police that she then got out of the car through the rear hatch and ran towards a neighbor’s apartment to ask for help. She said the would-be robber then entered a first-floor apartment, then left and sped away in a small, gray, four-door Ford sedan with two other men. The gunman was described only as a Hispanic man age 20-30, wearing a black and red jacket and black jeans.

Security cam captures man who may be burglar
A burglar broke into an apartment in the 6000 block of West 63rd Street and stole a PlayStation video game console, $90 cash and assorted jewelry. The crime was discovered by the victim, a 25-year-old man, at about 12:20 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7. A neighbor told police that his security camera captured footage of a man who may have been the burglar, leaving the apartment with something concealed under a blanket. The man appeared to be a Hispanic man age 25-30, about 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, with brown eyes, black hair in a “shaved” style, and a light complexion.

Granny shows cops way to stolen pizza, ribs
A 60-year-old driver for Triano’s Pizza, 6758 W. Archer, was robbed at gunpoint as he tried to deliver pizza, ribs and pop to a home in the 4400 block of South Lavergne at 8:50 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6. The victim told police that he was outside when a man approached, pulled what appeared to be a black shotgun from behind a fence and said, “Give me your money. I’m not f~cking around.” The victim said he handed over about $300 cash, as well as the food. The bandit then ran away west, and the victim also fled the scene. Police investigating the crime learned that the food order was placed online by a person using a valid email address. Police traced the order to a man living in the 4400 block of South Lavergne. They drove to the home, where they were met by the man’s grandmother, who let them in. Inside, police found the food in question in a bedroom, with a Triano’s receipt still attached. The suspect was not on the premises. The food was confiscated and inventoried.

Pizza man robbed by rifle-toting bandit
A 23-year-old driver for Beggars Pizza was robbed at gunpoint as he tried to deliver a pizza to a home in the 4400 block of South Lavergne at about 10 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5. The victim told police that he was approached by a man with a rifle who said, “Give me all your money.” The victim said he handed over about $200 cash, dropped the food on the ground, got in his car and sped away. He called the pizzeria’s manager to report the crime. Later, the two returned to the scene but noticed the food was gone from where it had been dropped. The bandit was described as a black man age 18-21, about 5-foot-10 and 155 pounds, with a medium complexion. He wore black clothing.

Charge man with stolen vehicle possession

A 56-year-old Lower West Side man was charged with possession of a stolen vehicle and
Carl Nietupski
three counts of theft, after a traffic stop at 46th and Cicero at 4:59 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1.

Carl E. Nietupski, of the 2700 block of West Roosevelt Road, was arrested after police learned that the vehicle he was driving had been reported stolen.

The theft charges were added after officers learned that the vehicle “contained property that did not belong to [Nietupski],” a CPD spokesman said.

According to public records, Nietupski has been arrested five times by CPD since 2017—including once for possession of a stolen vehicle in December 2017.

Bust woman at MDW on drug trafficking rap
Jamilya Gabb

A 25-year-old South Side woman was charged with cannabis trafficking after she was arrested at Midway Airport at 6:55 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4.

Jamilya A. Gabb, of the 4700 block of South King Drive, was detained after police reportedly saw her “take possession of a set of suspicious luggage…[Gabb] did not own the luggage although it was registered in her name,” a CPD spokesman said. Gabb “gave written consent to officers to search the luggage, which contained a large amount of suspect cannabis,” the spokesman added.

Claim man carried replica gun
Zbigniew Stopka

A 26-year-old Garfield Ridge man was charged with carrying a replica gun/pellet gun after he was arrested at 6:33 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 2 in front of 5446 S. Central.

Zbigniew Stopka, of the 6000 block of West 55th Street, was seen “walking with the butt of a weapon sticking out of his jacket pocket,” a CPD spokesman said.

According to public records, Stopka has been arrested five times by CPD since 2014, on such charges as criminal trespass to land, theft, assault and domestic battery.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

St. Patrick's Day parade set for Garfield Ridge

All invited to be Irish for a day

By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher
Southwest Chicago Post

A city neighborhood once known as a Polish bastion—and now known increasingly for its Hispanic influx--will host
an Irish-themed parade again this year.

The Clear-Ridge Men’s Social Athletic Club (SAC)'s parade is scheduled to step off at noon Saturday, March 16 at Archer and Oak Park, march east on Archer to Narragansett and then south to the Kennedy High School parking lot. The event will be held rain or shine.

"This parade gets a little bigger and more popular every year, because it’s all about family fun," said SAC member Dave Monahan, who founded the parade in 2015 with James M. Sweeney, President-Business Manager of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150.

A union electrician and Garfield Ridge homeowner, Monahan said the parade was founded simply and almost informally “by guys from the neighborhood, union guys who wanted to do something good for the community.”

The Clear-Ridge Men’s SAC is currently about 200 men strong, Monahan said. It maintains a relatively low profile in the area, doing good deeds quietly for those in need.

Clearing and Garfield Ridge families—as well as non-profits
like groups associated with local churches, schools, parks, Little Leagues, Scout troops, civic leagues, neighborhood watches and such—are welcome to organize a marching unit or float and be in the parade.

Local businesses are also welcome to be a part of the fun.
There is an entry fee of $250 for political candidates and parties, as well as individuals and organizations outside the neighborhood. Sponsorships also are available, ranging from $500 to $2,500. 

Proceeds will benefit Misericordia, which since 1921 has provided care and a range of services to people with developmental disabilities.

“This is all about the neighborhood, and we aim to keep it that way,” said Monahan, who grew up in the neighborhood, attending St. Symphorosa School and St. Joseph High School in Westchester. He and his wife have raised their family in St. Daniel the Prophet Parish.

In response to a question, Monahan said a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Garfield Ridge is something he could not have imagined as a kid. “We’d sometimes go to the downtown parade or the other one [in Beverly],” he recalled. “But hey, times change—and besides, everyone can be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, right?”

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Thursday, February 7, 2019

Kinzie Girl Scouts use hands, hearts to bring warmth to the homeless in winter

By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher
Southwest Chicago Post

A number of men, women and children in need are a bit warmer this winter, thanks to the hearts and hands of Kinzie Girl Scout Brownie/Junior Troop 20423.

The girls of the troop--third through fifth graders at Kinzie--made and donated 18 blankets to Almost Home, a Hometown-based non-profit that assists families who are homeless.

Girl Scout mom Janelle Karnas spearheaded the activity. She asked adult leaders about the girls readiness for a service learning project.

The girls' objective was to take action and persevere to being an Agent of Change as they worked on their Girl Scouts Journey Its Your World Change It series of badges. 

Janelle has done this in the past and had a lot of extra material left over from some old projects. She donated all the materials and brought in a few other troop moms in to help the girls with the project.

Girl Scout Gennevieve Ortiz said, "I loved making blankets for the homeless because it was a fun thing to do and it helps others!"

Girl Scout Troop 20423 formed in fall of 2014 when Kinzie moms Elizabeth Ortiz and Michelle Ayala recruited kindergarten and first grade girls to be part of their Daisy troop.

"We started off with nine girls, and our troop has steadily grown over the years," said Michelle Ayala. "Now we have 17!"

The girls have earned many badges and been on many field trips over the past five years; but this is "their most meaningful project to date," Elizabeth Ortiz added.

Troop members pictured are (from left to right): Isabella Patel-Garcia, Jordayn Mayhew, Morgan Seggerson, Gianna Plescia, Sasha Del Raso, Emily Karnas, Quincy Ayala, Gennevieve Ortiz, Danielle Shilling, Evelyn Guzman, Aileen Guzman and Bianca Hernandez.

Well done, girls!
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Sunday, February 3, 2019

Stan’s Barbershop thriving, expanding

Josh Czarny adds second barber, a Navy vet

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

While many old-school barbershops in Garfield Ridge and
Clearing exist only in people’s memories, Stan’s is not only surviving, it’s thriving.

Starting this month, the iconic Stan’s Barbershop, 6652 ½ W. Archer, is a six-day shop--open Mondays for possibly the first time ever, now that a second barber has been brought on by owner Josh Czarny.

New, expanded hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.

“This shop has gotten busier, but we’re only going to get so busy with one barber,” Czarny said. “But if customers know two of us are on duty and there’s little to no waiting, they’re more likely to stop in.”

Czarny (foreground), Hajewski (background).
The new barber is John Hajewski, who most recently worked cutting hair at shops in the Loop and on the North Side.

“John is a good man who knows what he’s doing,” Czarny said. “Customers will like him. He’s worked at some good barbershops.”

Hajewski specializes in straight-razor shaves, traditional men’s haircuts and fades—although he is versatile enough to handle a variety of requests.

A native of suburban Bridgeview, Hajewski graduated from Wilkins Junior High School. Later he lived in the Archer Heights neighborhood while he attended St. Rita High School, where he graduated in 2006.

After high school, he joined the Navy and served a four-year stint.

Then it was on to a year at a barber school.

New lettering on Stan's Barbershop's front window.
Hajewski said he decided to try barbering because he has “a really good attention to detail, which helps in this business.”

While he has been at Stan’s for just a few weeks, he said he likes the mix of customers, young and old, as well as the “vintage feel” of the shop.

Stan’s Barbershop was established in 1965 by Garfield Ridge resident Stan Podlasek. The shop got a new lease on life in late 2017 when Podlasek retired and Czarny, a 35-year-old Southwest Side native, picked up the shears and pumped new life into what has been one of the oldest and most liked businesses on the strip.

Some of Stan’s is the same, most notably the teal-colored chairs, spinning barber pole and of course, the iconic blue-neon window sign.

But other things are notably improved, such as new flooring and wall coverings that give the storefront a warmer feel. There also are two new wall-mounted TVs, a display of hair-care products and an eye-catching shop logo that incorporates Chicago’s municipal flag.

The goal is a family-friendly atmosphere suitable for young
A friendly message on Stan's Barbershop's front door.
and old. Czarny himself has cut hair for customers of all ages, from a 10-month-old boy getting his first haircut to a 94-year-old man who has been coming to Stan’s for years.

Services offered are similar to the traditional cuts offered by Stan Podlasek, with notable additions likes fades and other styles, as well as beard trims and hot-towel, straight-razor shaves.

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