Tuesday, August 25, 2020

He Lost Everything, Except His Friends

By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher
Southwest Chicago Post

Kindness counts, especially when it touches the heart of someone who’s down.

Ziggy Bejger, 72, was down.

His home in nearby Hodgkins went up in flames earlier this

“I lost everything: IDs, family photos, furniture, everything burned completely,” Ziggy tells me. “Three more seconds and I might have been lost.”

One of his cats, Scooter, lost his life in the fire. “I couldn’t get back in to save him.”

As he fought to escape the smoke and flames, Ziggy suffered second-degree burns on his back, neck, left arm, shoulders, knees and fingertips.

His home was a total loss.

He spent four days in a hospital before being discharged.

Fortunately for Ziggy, one of his neighbors in the Weeping Willow Ranch neighborhood—Patricia Golden--lent him her fully furnished home. (She was away, visiting a niece.)

Another one of Ziggy’s neighbors is Terry Dahlstrom. She is a grandma to 12-year-old Anthony and 9-year-old Nicholas Ceska, who are growing up in Clearing with their mom and dad, Amber and James Ceska. 

The family of four had forged a relationship with Ziggy when visiting Terry. He would come over and sit on the deck with them, talking and getting to know them. Ziggy gave the boys presents at Christmas and other times.

Ziggy also was known as the handyman to call when you needed something fixed. According to Amber, he helped Terry a lot. 

“He always has been very good to us and my mother-in-law,” Amber tells me.

In the early-morning hours of the fire--around 2:30 a.m. Monday, Aug. 10--Terry called Amber and James to tell them what was going on. Later that day, the whole family went to Terry’s for lunch and saw the devastation the fire left behind.

After seeing the charred remains, Anthony and Nicholas told Amber they wanted to help in some way. They came up with the idea of a lemonade stand. Mom and Dad agreed and helped purchase supplies. 

“It was for a good cause,” Amber recalls. 

So in front of their home near 63rd and Austin, the boys—
both students at Hale School--set up a banquet table with a tablecloth. They also made up a poster showing what happened to Ziggy and his home. For two days, Aug. 12-13, the boys sat at their makeshift stand to collect money for Ziggy. They charged a dollar a cup. One customer donated $50 to the cause.

Three days later, the Ceska foursome visited Ziggy at his temporary home.

Ziggy had already been told by Terry about the boys’ good deed. The news touched his heart and made him speechless. 

When Anthony and Nicholas came over to him to present the
$490 they raised, along with Jewel-Osco gift certificates, Ziggy tells me he “broke into tears. It was incredible what they did…that two little kids came up with this on their own.” 

“It was a very solemn moment for me. I played Santa for them, but they repaid me back tenfold…I told them, ‘Thank you so much and God bless you.’ It’s unbelievable what they did and I told them that they were young men with a lot of integrity. I told their parents that they must be so proud of what they did.”

Right you are, Ziggy. Well done, boys. And congratulations to the rightfully proud mom and dad.

Stories like this bring me to tears. It’s yet another example of why Clearing and Garfield Ridge are two of the best neighborhoods anywhere—city or suburban.

If you missed the lemonade stand but want to give Ziggy a hand, please email Amber at Aceska@att.net.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

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 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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Boy on skateboard shot in the back

A 15-year-old boy was listed in serious condition at Advocate Christ Medical Center after he was shot in the back. Police said the victim was riding his skateboard in the 6500 block of South Hamlin at about 12:45 p.m. Friday, Aug. 21 when he suddenly stopped a person to ask if he had been shot. The person spotted a gunshot wound, and the teen was taken the hospital. No one is in custody.

Teenager shot in the leg

A 17-year-old boy was shot in the leg as he and others stood on a sidewalk in the 3600 bock of West 70th Street at 12:14 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 15. Police said the shooter was described as a Hispanic man who emerged from a white SUV and fired before getting a back in and speeding away. The victim was transported to Advocate Christ Medical Center, where he was listed in good condition. No one is in custody.

Shot five times on 71st Street

A 26-year-old man was shot five times in his stomach and arms as he drive his vehicle in the 3900 block of West 71st Street at 9:55 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12. The victim was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center, where he was listed in good condition. The shooter fired from a gray SUV. No one is in custody.

Claim man carried illegal drugs
Bryan Townshend

A 31-year-old West Lawn man was charged with possession of a controlled substance after he was arrested during a traffic stop in the 5900 block of South California at 7:41 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 2.

Bryan L. Townshend, of the 7100 block of South Harding, allegedly was found to be in possession of illegal drugs after he was pulled over for not wearing a seatbelt, a CPD spokesman said.

Teen shot while driving
A 17-year-old boy was shot in the foot as he drove his vehicle in the 7900 block of South Pulaski just before 10 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 20. The teen told police that the shooter fired from a silver four-door sedan. He drove himself to Advocate Christ Medical Center, where he was listed  in good condition. No one is in custody.

Charged with four counts of domestic battery
Pedro Martinez

A 22-year-old Scottsdale man was charged with four counts of domestic battery after he was arrested at his home in the 8300 block of South Kolin at 10:25 p.m. Tuesday, July 28. 

Pedro Martinez allegedly struck a 45-year-old woman, a 33-year-old man, a 21-year-old woman and a 15-year-old boy during a family argument, a CPD spokesman said. A charge of criminal damage to property was added after Martinez allegedly damaged a door as he tried to force his way into the residence, the spokesman added.

According to public records, Martinez was arrested by CPD in October 2017 in the 8300 block of South Kenton and charged with domestic battery.

Bust three on looting charge
Javier Paredes

Three people were charged with looting and burglary after they were arrested at 4140 S. Pulaski just before 1 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 11.

Javier Paredes, 34, and Evangelina Perez, 34, both of the 6000 block of South California; and Lydia Rodriguez, 29, of the 6000 block of South Pulaski, were allegedly caught loading merchandise into a vehicle after a witness alerted police.

A CPD spokesman said the trio had broken into a retail store at that address.
Evangelina Perez

According to public records, Paredes has been arrested 11 times by CPD since 2014 on charges that included retail theft (five times), aggravated battery of a peace officer, possession of a controlled substance and violating terms of bail.

According to public records, Perez has been arrested three times by CPD since 2015 on charges that included theft, battery and driving on a suspended license.

According to public records, Rodriguez has been arrested eight times by CPD since 2014 on such charges as criminal trespass to a residence, criminal
Lydia Rodriguez
trespass to a vehicle, unlawful use of a weapon/shotgun and criminal trespass to real property. 

Good Samaritan tackles alleged robber
Daniel Gaertner

A 31-year-old North Side man was charged with robbery after he was arrested in front of the McDonald’s at 47th and Cicero at 4:15 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 8.

Daniel M. Gaertner, of the 3000 block of North Linder, allegedly accosted a 59-year-old woman, pushed her to the sidewalk and took her belongings. A CPD spokesman said that as Gaertner began to flee on foot, a Good Samaritan tackled Gaertner and held him until police arrived.

According to public records, Gaertner has been arrested five times by CPD since 2014—almost entirely because he was wanted on warrants.

Allegedly violated order of protection
Efrain O'Neill

A 31-year-old Brighton Park man was charged with violating an order of protection after he was arrested at his home in the 4600 block of South Spaulding at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5.

Efrain Garcia O’Neill allegedly had unlawful contact with a 32-year-old woman, a CPD spokesman said.

The arrest came a month after O’Neill was arrested for allegedly punching the woman in the face during an argument.

According to public records, O’Neill has been arrested 13 times since 2016 on such charges as domestic battery (six times), criminal damage to property, burglary and criminal trespass to land.

Claim woman was porch pirate
Brenda Brito

A 28-year-old Archer Heights woman was charged with theft and battery after she was arrested in the 5800 block of South Archer at 1:15 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 11.

Brenda Brito, of the 4900 block of South Tripp,  allegedly stole a package off a 34-year-old woman's porch in the 5700 block of South Archer; and then when confronted by a 21-year-old man, punched him in the face.

According to public records, Brito has been arrested five times by CPD since 2015 on charges that included retail theft and drinking alcohol on the public way.

Charge man with burglary
Antonio Upchurch

A 22-year-old South Side  man was charged with burglary after he was arrested in the 6700 block of West Archer at 11:10 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 18.

Antonio Upchurch, of the 9100 block of South Saginaw, allegedly was caught burglarizing Horan Glass Block, a CPD spokesman said without elaborating.

Kicked me in the shins, woman says
Robert Miller

A 54-year-old Clearing man was charged with domestic battery after he was arrested at his home in the 6100 block of South Narragansett at 5:10 p.m. Monday, Aug. 10.

Robert J. Miller allegedly kicked a 68-year-old woman in the shins during an argument.

Charged with domestic battery
Osvaldo Castillo

A 26-year-old Clearing man was charged with domestic battery after he was arrested in the 6300 block of South New England at 9:09 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 9.

Osvaldo J. Castillo allegedly pushed a 54-year-old woman during an argument.

According to public records, Castillo has been arrested six times by CPD since 2015 on such charges as DUI/drugs, driving on a suspended license and reckless conduct.

Claim man burglarized garage
Jeffrey Terry

A 53-year-old Garfield Ridge man was charged with burglary after he was arrested at his home in the 5300 block of West 54th Street at 1:59 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12.

Jeffrey Terry was reportedly identified as the man who burglarized a garage in the 5000 block of South Fairfield on Aug. 1. A CPD spokesman said Terry was IDed based on surveillance camera footage.

According to public records, Terry has been arrested three times by CPD since 2014 on charges that included possession of a controlled substance and criminal trespass to state land.

Allegedly hit woman
Robert Schwamlein

A 32-year-old Clearing man was charged with domestic battery after he was arrested in the 3700 block of South Archer at 9:32 p.m. Thursday, July 30.

Robert Schwamlein, of the 6900 block of West 65th Street, allegedly struck a 31-year-old woman during an argument. A charge of assault was added after he allegedly threatened an officer arresting him.

According to public records, Schwamlein has been arrested four times by CPD in the last six years, including a July 2014 arrest for robbery near 38th and Spaulding.

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Saturday, August 22, 2020

Villanueva Condemns Police Actions

Defund Chicago Police, state senator says
State Senator Celina Villanueva

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-11th) is one of 10 lawmakers who recently condemned the Lightfoot Administration over the Chicago Police Department’s response to protesters in the Loop.

The 11th District includes portions of Midway-area city neighborhoods, as well as other city neighborhoods and suburban towns.

The letter she signed was penned by United Working Families, a leftist political organization.

The letter was written in response to police actions on the weekend of Aug. 15-16, when police responded to pushing and hitting by protesters (one protester was seen whacking a police officer over the head repeatedly with a skateboard) with pushback that included pepper spray, arrests and what appeared to be kettling, a crowd-control tactic in which police essentially surround protesters on three sides and prevent them from leaving an area.

“Sixteen people have been shot so far this weekend, including a 12-year-old boy,” the statement read. “The murder clearance rate is abysmally low. Seventy percent of the deadlines for the federal consent decree, intended to protect civilians from police violence, remain unmet. And this weekend, thousands of officers were sent downtown by Mayor Lightfoot to beat and pepper-spray anti-violence activists who were begging to be allowed to disperse peacefully.

“This is the opposite of safety—this is violence," the statement continued. "It must stop. That begins with Mayor Lightfoot ordering a de-escalation of police surveillance and abuse, defunding a department that has failed to protect people from harm, and re-investing those resources in the things people truly need—like cash payments, healthcare and non-violent crisis intervention services—in order to be cared for.”

Joining Villanueva in signing the letter were Aldermen Byron Sigcho-Lopez, Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez, Andre Vasquez, Carlos Ramirez-Rosa and Jeanette Taylor. State lawmakers signing on included Robert Peters, Lakesia Collins and Theresa Mah. Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson also signed.

A Villanueva spokesman acknowledged a news reporter's request for further comment, but said he was not sure if the senator would respond. She has not.

Last month, Villanueva signed into a UWF letter to Lightfoot and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, urging them to refuse to cooperate with federal law enforcement agents deployed to Chicago.

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Thursday, August 20, 2020

CPD Warns of Woman Robbing Businesses in Archer Heights Area

Three recent armed robberies in the Archer Heights area
have prompted Chicago Police is issue an alert.

In each case, a bandit entered a business, pulled a handgun, demanded money and then fled with loot.

Crime scenes:

• 4800 block of South Archer at 12:05 a.m. Saturday, August 8.

• 4400 block of South Archer at 9:26 p.m. Wednesday, August 12.

• 4300 block of South Pulaski at 10:18 p.m. Wednesday, August 19.

The criminal is described as a black woman age 20-30, 5-foot-1 to 5-foot-9 and 100-150 pounds, carrying a black backpack.

Those with useful information to share are asked to call CPD Area 1 detectives at (312) 747-8380 and refer to crime pattern P20-1-223.

In the wake of the crimes, police advise:

• Always be aware of your surroundings.

• Report suspicious activity immediately.

• If you are confronted by an assailant, remain calm.

• Remember any unique physical characteristics (such as scars, limp, tattoos).

• Never pursue a fleeing assailant. Instead, provide the information to the police.

• If approached by a witness to the incident, request contact information.

• Dial 9-1-1 immediately and remain on scene when possible.

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