Friday, October 16, 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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Allegedly shot and killed man at a gas station 

A 40-year-old Garfield Ridge man awaits trial after he was charged with murder. Eduardo Pena
Eduardo Pena

was arrested at his home in the 5300 block of South Mayfield at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23. 

He allegedly shot a man in the back at the BP gas station at 39th and Archer shortly after 9 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 6. Slain was Brighton Park resident Steven Garcia, 38.

According to published reports, prosecutors said that Pena and two gang members were in Pena’s SUV when they saw the tattooed and shirtless Garcia. The two men in Pena’s vehicle reportedly got out and punched Garcia in what was described as a gang-related argument.

A short time later, Pena allegedly got out of his vehicle, chased down Garcia and shot him. Garcia fell to the ground and was later pronounced dead at St. Anthony Hospital.

A few minutes after the shooting, Pena’s SUV was pulled over by police because it was being driven with its headlights off. When quizzed about the shooting, the vehicle’s occupants reportedly denied knowing anything. But police bodycam footage later was used to match the occupants to the crime, and they were arrested. In court, Pena’s attorney said he works as a janitor at the Merchandise Mart.

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Want to work directly with Chicago Police to prevent crime in your neighborhood? If you live in and/or own a business in Beat 811 (see map) make plans to attend your next CAPS meeting, set for 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, October 20 at Ward Hall, 5157 S. McVicker. Hear updates on crime in your neighborhood and learn how you can work with neighbors and police to make the community safer and better for all. This meeting will also serve as the October meeting for the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch. See you there?

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Woman carjacked in West Lawn

A 26-year-old West Lawn woman reported that three men stole her SUV at gunpoint as she parked near 71st and Springfield at 8:05 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15. The victim told police that a man walked up behind her, covered her mouth with his hand, put a gun to her head and said, “Don’t scream or I’ll shoot.” A second bandit then went through her pockets, taking her vehicle keys. They and a third robber then jumped in her SUV and sped away east on 71st Street. The victim said she alerted her 52-year-old father, who was nearby. They jumped in his vehicle and tried to follow the stolen SUV but lost it at Kedzie. The robbers were described as black boys or men ages 16 to 19, about 5-foot-7 and 120 pounds, wearing black hoodies and black jeans.

Man foils robbers by fleeing

A 39-year-old Scottsdale man foiled an armed bandit who tried to rob him at his home in the 8600 block of South Kedvale at 7:45 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15. The victim told police that as he walked up his driveway, two men pulled up in a black SUV. One got out, pulled a pistol and told the victim not to move. The victim responded by running away into his backyard, and the offenders sped away in their vehicle. They were described as black boys or men ages 16-25, about 5-foot-11 and wearing blue jeans.

Charge man with sex assault of minors
Quawone Harris

A 25-year-old man from suburban Calumet City was charged with three counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse after he was arrested at his place of employment in the 5600 block of South Archer at 12:40 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4.

Quawone D. Harris allegedly assaulted several minors in the months prior to his arrest, although a CPD spokesman did not say when or where the crimes allegedly occurred.

ShotSpotter alert leads to gun arrest
Derrick Guzman

A 32-year-old Garfield Ridge man was charged with reckless discharge of a firearm after he was arrested at his home in the 5200 block of South Normandy at 12:20 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 6. 

Derrick Guzman was arrested by officers responding to a ShotSpotter alert, a CPD spokesman said without elaborating.

Allegedly used knife to threaten teen
Taric Assad

A 47-year-old Clearing man was charged with aggravated assault after he was arrested at his home in the 6200 block of South Narragansett at 8:15 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24.

Taric M. Assad allegedly used a knife to threaten a 17-year-old boy during an argument in the home five hours earlier.

According to public records, Assad was arrested in February 2017 near 99th and Halsted and charged with battery and aggravated assault.

Say South Side man drove drunk
David Brown

A 58-year-old Auburn-Gresham man was charged with DUI, as well as leaving the scene of an accident, after he was arrested in the 6700 block of South Pulaski at 6:45 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3. 

David L. Brown, of the 7800 block of South Aberdeen, allegedly was the driver of a vehicle that crashed into a parked car in the 6700 block of South Springfield, shortly before his arrest.

He also was ticketed for driving without a license.

Sparks fly, woman pulled over and arrested
Crystal Rodriguez

A 25-year-old Gage Park woman was charged with DUI, reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident after she was arrested in the 4700 block of South Archer at 9:22 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25.

Crystal M. Rodriguez, of the 3400 block of West 53rd Place, was pulled over by police who reportedly spotted sparks emanating from one of her wheels.

A CPD spokesman said that Rodriguez was then identified as the driver whose vehicle struck another vehicle a short time earlier in the 6700 block of West Archer.

Charged with domestic battery
Juan Garnica

A 30-year-old Scottsdale man was charged with domestic battery after he was arrested at his home in the 8200 block of South Kilbourn at 2:53 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 27.

Juan C. Garnica allegedly choked and hit a 29-year-old woman during and argument.

Bust man on criminal trespass to a vehicle
Daniel White

A 44-year-old Garfield Ridge man was charged with criminal trespass to a vehicle after he was arrested near his home in the 5200 block of South Neenah at 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 6.

Daniel White also was charged with criminal damage to property, a CPD spokesman said without elaborating.

According to public records, White was arrested in May 2018 near 66th and Damen and charged with possession of a controlled substance.

Bust Indiana man on drug rap
Devonte Scott

A 27-year-old man from Storm Lake, Ind. was charged with possession of a controlled substance after he was arrested during a traffic stop in the 6400 block of South Melvina at 2:40 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 24.

Devonte J. Scott also was charged with driving without a license.

According to public records, Scott has been arrested five times by CPD since 2014 on charges that included domestic battery and criminal damage to property.

Say man’s vehicle was overloaded
Jorge Salinas

A 22-year-old West Lawn man was charged with driving an overloaded vehicle after he was arrested in the 6300 block of South Archer at 8:40 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14.

Jorge A. Salinas, of the 3900 block of West 66th Place, allegedly was driving a 2018 Ford Escape that was overloaded with cargo that was protruding from the vehicle, a CPD spokesman said without elaborating. Salinas also was charged with driving on a suspended license. 

According to public records, Salinas has been arrested four times by CPD since 2016 on charges that included retail theft, criminal defacement of property and unlawful use of a weapon.

Claim man burglarized garage
Joseph Holubek

A 47-year-old Clearing man was charged with burglary after he was arrested in an alley near 60th and Massasoit at 3:49 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2.

Joseph Holubek, of the 6000 block of South Massasoit, allegedly burglarized a garage in the 6200 block of South Monitor on Aug. 30.

According to public records, Holubek has been arrested 14 times since 2017 on such charges as domestic battery (four times), violating an order of protection, retail theft and criminal trespass to land.

Wouldn’t get off bus, police say

A 27-year-old Scottsdale man was charged with assault, as well as trespassing on CTA property,
Maurice Lowry

after he was arrested at the Orange Line terminal, 4612 W. 59th St., at 6:30 a.m. Monday, Oct. 5.

Maurice R. Lowry, of the 8000 block of South Pulaski, allegedly refused to get off a CTA bus when told to do so, and then tried to hit a police officer arresting him.

According to the public records, Lowry has been arrested five times by CPD since 2018 on such charges as aggravated assault, criminal trespass to land, criminal trespass to a residence and retail theft.

Charge man with trespassing
William Marley

A 57-year-old man was charged with criminal trespass to property after he was arrested in the 6200 block of South Mason at 9:50 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29.

William J. Marley was apprehended without incident, a CPD spokesman said without elaborating.

According to public records, Marley was arrested at the same address in October 2017 and charged with the same crime.

Chat with cops leads to drug arrest
Nicole Vieni

A 33-year-old Scottsdale woman was charged with possession of a hypodermic syringe/needle, as well as two counts of possession of a controlled substance after she was arrested in the 5000 block of West 46th Street at 6:55 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 9.

Nicole E. Vieni, of the 7900 block of South Kilpatrick, was apprehended after officers talking with her reportedly spotted a needle and a white powdery substance in the vehicle where she sat.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Police Warn of Robbers in West Elsdon

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

Police are warning of a robbery crew working the West Elsdon area.

Crime scenes include:

• 3100 block of West 56th Street at about 4 p.m. Saturday, October 10.
• 3900 block of West 57th Street at about 11:25 a.m. Tuesday, October 13.
• 5400 block of South Harding at 11:33 a.m. Tuesday, October 13 (twice, according to CPD).

The thugs committing the crimes were described as black boys or men, ages 14 to 24, about 5-foot-8 and 145-170 pounds. A CPD alert did not say if the criminals were armed.

Those with useful information to share are asked to call CPD Area 1 Detectives at (312) 747-8380 and refer to crime pattern P20-1-265.

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, teeth).
• Never pursue a fleeing assailant; instead, provide the information to the police.
• If video surveillance is available, save a copy of the incident for detectives.
• If approached by a witness to the incident, request contact information.
• Dial 9-1-1 immediately and remain on scene when possible.

Rodent Worries Multiply as SW Siders Report Seeing More Rats and Mice

Fall Weather Brings Added Challenges

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

A quick check any neighborhood-based Facebook group in the city (or many suburbs) shows increasing concern about infestations of mice and even rats.

“Until this year, I had not seen a rat in West Lawn since the 1980s,” Frank Jenig said in a recent discussion. “I thought the City had eliminated that problem.”

Why rodent populations seem to be surging is anyone’s guess—and there are plenty of guesses, including years of budget cuts that have reportedly reduced City Hall’s ability to control the furry pests.

Others say that overloading of garbage carts in alleys has resulted in a steady food supply for rats and mice.

“I grew up in the ‘40s; and sure, we had rats because of the way that garbage was all over the place,” said McKinley Park resident Sal Vecchio. “We had those concrete garbage containers, and then we had 55-gallon drums with lids that never fit. I thought the new garbage carts that came in years ago would solve the problem. But if you overload them, it defeats the purpose.”

Still others point to dog owners not picking up their pets’ excrement—which is a food source for rodents when other sources are not available.

“Bird feeders are an issue,” said Evan Ostrowski, a retired rodent control officer. “I know a lot of people like to feed the birds; but let God feed the birds. When you put the bird feeder out, the squirrels are going to come and get it. The squirrels are going to knock the suet and the seeds on the ground; and now it’s not bird food no more. Now it’s rat food, and the oil [in the suet] attracts rats.”

Compounding the problem is the weather. As fall moves toward winter, rats and mice look for a place to shelter and reproduce over the winter, notes Jose Yanez, owner of Amigo Pest Control.

Yanez cautions homeowners against having a false sense of security about being rodent-free.

“A rat only needs an opening the size of a quarter to get into your house or garage,” he often tells homeowners. “A mouse only needs an opening the size of a dime. If they can squeeze their head through a hole or a crack, they’re in—and now you have a problem.”

Mice and rats can squeeze their way under a storm doors if the weather stripping at the bottom is weakened by a few years’ wear and tear. The resourceful creatures can even squeeze in spaces next to pipes and wires that enter the home from the outside.
Once that happens, infestation begins.

“Rodents will find a dark, dry, warm space where you would never notice them and probably can’t find them,” Ostrowski added. “Often that means behind your kitchen cabinets, where they can be close to your food supply. Perfect place for them to nest and start making babies—and man, they reproduce quickly.”

Some people say keeping rodents at bay requires nothing more than buying a cat.

But Yanez says that over time, rodents appear to have lost their fear of felines.

“We see a lot of homes where people have cats, but they still have a rodent problem,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of cats being chased by rats.”

City rodent control workers typically encourage everyone with a complaint about rats to call 311 with an exact address and a detailed description of the problem.

City Hall fields more than 42,000 rat-related complaints in an average year.

But once rodents get inside a home or garage, City workers can do little. That’s where professionals like Yanez come in.

“We have a number of weapons at our disposal, and they work,” he said. “We have a variety of traps, as well as poison that can stop an infestation quickly. Our pest control professionals can and do make homes rodent free—and we help keep them that way.”

Monday, October 12, 2020

Pumpkin Jamboree Parade Rescued by Garfield Ridge Chamber of Commerce

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

Archer Avenue’s annual Pumpkin Jamboree Parade, orphaned by the looming departure of its longtime sponsor—U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-3rd)—has been adopted by the Garfield Ridge Chamber of Commerce.

“The business owners of this community care quite a bit about the neighborhoods we serve, so we just kind of claimed the parade,” GRCC President Mary Ellen Brown said. “The thousands of boys and girls, moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas who enjoy this parade every year…those are our customers, our clients or our patients, as the case may be. We care about them.”

The parade this year will not be held on Archer Avenue, because City officials told the GRCC they would not issue a permit in a pandemic year. So the Chamber looked to the Village of Bedford Park and found a willing partner.

Brown said that Village President David R. Brady was friendly and easy to work with. For this year, at least, the Village will be home to the parade.

The 2020 GRCC Pumpkin Jamboree Parade will step off at 10 a.m. Saturday, October 31 from 65th and Central—marching west for a mile and disbanding at Narragansett.

Brown said that Bedford Park will close off all eastbound and

westbound lanes of 65th Street, to ensure safety of parade participants and spectators.

Because the GRCC has expanded its service area far beyond Garfield Ridge—to include neighborhoods on all sides of the airport—all Southwest Siders are invited to come out and enjoy the celebration.

The parade will doubtless be smaller than it has been in previous years, partly because of the pandemic and partly because under Lipinski’s sponsorship, the parade was less of a Garfield Ridge-Clearing event and more of a district-wide celebration that included marching units like the Proviso East High School band and first responder vehicles from as many as a dozen suburbs.

“It should be very family focused,” Brown said, adding that the GRCC insists that marchers and spectators follow CDC guidelines such as using masks and keeping safe distances from others. “We’re proud to make this event happen, we will do all we can to do it safely.”

She added that a key condition for Bedford Park officials allowing the event is that all must follow public health guidelines for social distancing and staying safe in the pandemic.

Those interested in marching in and/or entering a vehicle in the parade are advised to visit, fill out an application and return it online by Oct. 21.

Immediately after the parade, all are invited to a family-friendly
Halloween celebration outside (weather permitting) at Magoo’s, 6500 S. Menard. There will be costume judging in several categories, prizes, food and fun. Admission is free. If the weather is inclement, the party will be moved inside.

Reaction among parents in the neighborhood appeared positive.

“I think it’s great that someone stepped forward to save this parade,” said Gina Roccasalva as she finished her shopping at Fair Share Finer Foods at 63rd and Narragansett. “If the Chamber didn’t pick up the ball that got dropped, we’d have nothing. Shame on Mayor Lightfoot for not allowing this, and thanks to Bedford Park for what they’re doing.”

Katie Villalobos said she likes “seeing all the little ones in their Halloween costumes at the parade, but I hope they do it safely. Wear your masks and keep your distance.”

Craig Lynch said the GRCC’s action “shows why we should shop right here in the neighborhood. Every time I see my neighbors go shopping in La Grange or Countryside or Orland or wherever, I say, ‘Hey, what do those businesses do for our neighborhood? Nothing.’ You take care of those who take care of you. Our local businesses support us. We should return the favor.”