WBEZ | chicago crime http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-crime Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Residents hope reward will bring killer of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee to justice http://www.wbez.org/news/residents-hope-reward-will-bring-killer-9-year-old-tyshawn-lee-justice-113624 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/pic2 brightened.jpg" style="height: 239px; width: 320px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="Father Michael Pfleger and Lamar Johnson pray near the site where 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee was killed. Pfleger’s parish is joining with other donors to offer a reward for information on the killing. (WBEZ/Patrick Smith)" />Chicago police say Area South detectives are looking into two credible theories in the daylight murder of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee.</p><p>The first is that Tyshawn was walking through the alley Monday after school, came upon a conflict, and was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.</p><p>The other is that he was the intended target, though the motive is unknown.</p><p>Fr. Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina&rsquo;s Church described the killing as &ldquo;an execution.&rdquo;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">WHAT HAVE WE BECOME CHICAGO......when a 9 yr old Boy can be executed in an alley at 4pm in the afternoon.....What... <a href="https://t.co/PknWiS4jbn">https://t.co/PknWiS4jbn</a></p>&mdash; Fr. Michael Pfleger (@MichaelPfleger) <a href="https://twitter.com/MichaelPfleger/status/661531984393576448">November 3, 2015</a></blockquote><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;A 9-year-old baby was executed in the alley behind us, by someone who has obviously lost their humanity,&rdquo; Pfleger told a group of volunteers Tuesday afternoon. &ldquo;Somebody executed a baby in the city of Chicago. There used to be street codes, there used to be lines that were drawn.&hellip; But that line has been removed. Well, we&rsquo;re here today to say, we&rsquo;re putting the line back.&rdquo;</p><p>Pfleger&rsquo;s parish, which is just about a mile from where the killing took place on the 8000 block of South Damen Avenue, is joining with other donors to put up a $20,000 reward for information on the shooting.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Reward increased to $20,000. Whoever is housing this executor should be charged with accessory. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TyshawnLee?src=hash">#TyshawnLee</a> <a href="https://t.co/ClElL94Qc5">pic.twitter.com/ClElL94Qc5</a></p>&mdash; Fr. Michael Pfleger (@MichaelPfleger) <a href="https://twitter.com/MichaelPfleger/status/661648752755802112">November 3, 2015</a></blockquote><p>&nbsp;</p><p>About 40 volunteers fanned out around the site of the shooting to pass out flyers featuring Tyshawn&rsquo;s smiling face.</p><p>Leonard Richardson, who is a deacon at St. Sabina&rsquo;s, walked with his wife Betty, putting handouts indoors and mailboxes.</p><p>&ldquo;You hate to think it takes money to [get] people to do what is right, but if that&rsquo;s what it takes,&rdquo; Leonard Richardson said.</p><p>Frequently throughout the walk, Betty Richardson looked down at the flyer.</p><p>&ldquo;Look at that face, look at that face.&hellip; Just a baby,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>The Richardsons have lived just a few blocks from where the shooting took place for more than 30 years.</p><p>&ldquo;I actually I cried. I just broke down, because I have grandchildren in this age. It just hurt me in my spirit,&rdquo; Betty Richardson said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s heart-wrenching.&rdquo;</p><p>Another of the volunteers, Tina Wallace, said she has an 8-year-old child.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know what [Tyshawn] wanted to do when he got older, but it does not matter. What matters is his life was ended early,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s horrifying so close to home.&rdquo;</p><p>Tyshawn Lee was shot in the head and back in broad daylight Monday afternoon.</p><p>The site in the alley is now marked with a makeshift memorial with teddy bears and candles.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/photo%204_0.JPG" style="height: 453px; width: 620px;" title="A memorial at the site where 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee was shot and killed Monday. Police are still searching for his killer. (WBEZ/Patrick Smith)" /></p><p>According to the Cook County medical examiner, Tyshawn lived on the 2000 block of West 80th Street, less than a block from where he was killed.</p><p>The medical examiner lists the cause of death as homicide by multiple gunshot wounds.</p><p><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/pksmid" target="_blank">@pksmid.</a></em></p></p> Tue, 03 Nov 2015 15:43:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/residents-hope-reward-will-bring-killer-9-year-old-tyshawn-lee-justice-113624 Chicago gunfire deadly during long holiday weekend http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-gunfire-deadly-during-long-holiday-weekend-107964 <p><p>Shootings in Chicago during the Fourth of July holiday weekend have left at least nine people dead and several dozen wounded, including two young boys shot in different parks.</p><p>Gov. Pat Quinn said Sunday that such continued violence underscores why he dramatically altered a gun bill that will end Illinois&#39; last-in-the nation ban on carrying concealed firearms &mdash; a prohibition that&#39;s been declared unconstitutional by a federal appeals court.</p><p>&quot;That ought to be an alarm bell to all of us that we need strong laws that protect the public safety, especially when it comes to guns,&quot; the Chicago Democrat told reporters after speaking at a church on the city&#39;s West Side. &quot;It&#39;s time to end the violence.&quot;</p><p>One of the shootings on Saturday night proved especially violent, killing a man in his late 40s and wounding six others. A 25-year-old man was shot and killed earlier Saturday outside his home.</p><p>Among the wounded are a 7-year-old boy who was shot Thursday night and Jaden Donald, 5, who authorities and relatives said has undergone multiple surgeries since being shot in the abdomen early Friday morning in a park. Police said two men &mdash; ages 34 and 28 &mdash; also were wounded in that Friday shooting.</p><p>Prosecutors in Donald&#39;s case have charged Darrell Chambers with three counts each of attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery.</p><p>During a hearing Sunday, Chambers was denied bond by Cook County Associate Judge Adam Bourgeios, who told the man &quot;there are no conditions I can set to keep the community safe,&quot; the Chicago Sun-Times reported.</p><p>Authorities also said a 17-year-old man was shot and killed by Chicago police Thursday after he allegedly pointed a gun at officers.</p><p>Despite the number of shootings over the holiday weekend, there have been a fewer number of homicides in Chicago in the first six months of 2013 compared to the same period last year. Overall, there were 500 shootings in 2012.</p><p>The number of homicides typically goes up in the summer and anti-violence advocates pay more attention to it. The Rev. Al Sharpton has said he plans to live in Chicago for a few months to work with neighborhood leaders on the problem.</p><p>Quinn, who has advocated for a statewide assault weapons ban, spent much of the holiday weekend discussing the violence. He drastically altered a concealed carry bill that lawmakers sent to him, calling it a matter of public safety.</p><p>Illinois lawmakers face a Tuesday deadline to come up with a concealed carry law and are expected to override Quinn&#39;s changes, which call for a one-gun limit on the number of weapons a person can carry and a ban on guns at establishments with liquor licenses, among other things.</p><p>Quinn and anti-violence advocates have highlighted city violence in the debate on gun control. But outside the Chicago area, discussion statewide has largely focused on gun owners&#39; rights. Lawmakers say their original bill was a compromise that came out of months of debate.</p></p> Mon, 08 Jul 2013 07:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-gunfire-deadly-during-long-holiday-weekend-107964 CTA expands employment program for people exiting prison http://www.wbez.org/news/cta-expands-employment-program-people-exiting-prison-105942 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Russell.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Michael Russell had trouble getting work because he served time for a drug crime. He couldn&rsquo;t support his family and considered returning to the street.<br /><br />But today, he stood near a podium, flanked by politicians and clergy. He folded his hands neatly and smiled as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel praised him.<br /><br />Russell recently completed a nine-month apprenticeship with the Chicago Transit Authority designed for people returning from prison. He&rsquo;s now working a CTA job.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I mean this is the best thing that&rsquo;s ever happened to me. &nbsp;If it wasn&rsquo;t for this program I don&rsquo;t know what I&rsquo;d be doing,&rdquo; Russell said.<br /><br />So far, only 15 people have been hired after their apprenticeships. But today, Mayor Emanuel, along with CTA President Forrest Claypool, annouced the program quadruple in size. There will now be 265 spots, making it one of the largest ex-offender programs in the country.<br /><br />Emanuel&rsquo;s been under public pressure because of this year&#39;s crime rate.&nbsp;He said that this program was a sort of crime prevention.</p><p>&ldquo;If you want to make sure that an ex-offender does not become a repeat offender, you have to have job opportunities for them to prove themselves,&rdquo; Emanuel said.</p></p> Wed, 06 Mar 2013 14:20:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cta-expands-employment-program-people-exiting-prison-105942 19 arrested after disturbance at Chicago mall http://www.wbez.org/news/19-arrested-after-disturbance-chicago-mall-105719 <p><p>Nineteen teenagers have been arrested following a disturbance that shut down a Chicago shopping mall and left two people with minor injuries.</p><p>Chicago police spokeswoman Laura Kubiak says the teens arrested Saturday were males and females ranging in age from 13 to 18.</p><p>Most are charged with misdemeanor mob action. A 16-year-old is charged with battery of a mall security guard who was trying to evacuate the mall.</p><p>Ford City Mall senior general manager John Sarama says the incident wasn&#39;t related to an appearance by the boy band Mindless Behavior, which ended about 45 minutes earlier.</p><p>Police say a large group of teens started causing chaos inside the mall. The disturbance continued in the parking lot, where some teens climbed on top of cars.</p></p> Mon, 25 Feb 2013 08:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/19-arrested-after-disturbance-chicago-mall-105719 Tracking student victims of gun violence no easy task http://www.wbez.org/news/tracking-student-victims-gun-violence-no-easy-task-105641 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/pendleton1n-1-web.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F80124651" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Chicago Public School officials are refusing to say whether kids gunned down in the city are public school students.</p><p>It&rsquo;s a significant change that comes as the city has become almost a poster child for youth gun violence and some suggest the district could be trying to protect their reputation.</p><p>There may be up to eight current and former students killed already in 2013, but CPS officials will not confirm any of those victims, citing a decades-old federal privacy law to withhold the information. It&rsquo;s a practice they say they&rsquo;ve followed since Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office.</p><p>For years, school officials deliberately collected and shared information about whether or not homicide victims also attended a public school in the city.</p><p>But CPS spokeswoman Marielle Sainvilus said they&rsquo;re trying to protect parents and students privacy. She said the district&rsquo;s legal team advises the district not to tell reporters whether shooting victims attend public schools in the city.</p><p>Sainvilus said victim information must come from the Chicago Police Department or the Cook County Medical Examiner&rsquo;s Office.</p><p>But when WBEZ called the Chicago Police Department Wednesday, a spokesman said police don&rsquo;t have access to student records and couldn&rsquo;t say where a victim went to school. He suggested calling CPS.</p><p>Frank LaMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, said there is nothing in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) that prevents districts from providing basic information about a student.&nbsp; He said it&rsquo;s more likely CPS is withholding information for other reasons.</p><p>&ldquo;Many schools are really, really image conscious and really sensitive to the idea that the public might get the impression that this is a dangerous place to go to school,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Information about exactly where victims went to school comes out on a case-by-case basis, through families or school principals. So far in 2013, news reports indicate eight homicide victims were also CPS students, including the national-headline-grabbing, shooting death of King College Prep sophomore Hadiya Pendleton.</p><p>Earlier this week, Clemente High School principal Marcey Sorensen said since the school year started in August, <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-02-19/news/ct-met-clemente-student-homicides-20130219_1_frances-colon-clemente-student-third-student">they&rsquo;ve lost three students to gun violence</a>. Last year, nineteen students were shot and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/education/weight-citys-violence-one-school-principal-100699">eight died at Harper High School</a> in Englewood.&nbsp;</p><p>Annette Nance-Holt lost her son, Blair, to gun violence in 2007. He was a student at Julian High School. After Blair died, Nance-Holt and her former husband Ronald Holt founded &ldquo;Purpose Over Pain,&rdquo; to provide support to the families of young people killed by gun violence.</p><p>She said she can understand the privacy concerns, but argues people in the community have a right to be &ldquo;aware of what&rsquo;s going on.&rdquo;</p><p>Plus, when people know what&rsquo;s going on, they&rsquo;re more likely to rally around the schools and families affected.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Maybe some big business person would say, &lsquo;Hey this school is having that type of problem. I&rsquo;m an alumni, let me help. Let me donate something,&rsquo;&rdquo; Nance-Holt said. &ldquo;I think these are things that could actually be valuable tools in helping us get more resources or dollars or activities in schools.&rdquo;</p><p>LeMonte echoed Nance-Holt&rsquo;s comments.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s how problems get solved,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;They get solved because parents and other stakeholders in a community get themselves fully informed, fully appreciate the gravity of a problem and bring pressure to bear on policy makers to do something about it.&rdquo;</p><p>According to news reports, the following 2013 homicide victims attended CPS schools. These are unconfirmed by CPS.</p><p>Octavius Lamb, 20, <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-01-02/news/ct-met-first-homicide-0102-20130102_1_fatal-shootings-bronzeville-neighborhood-gage-park">graduated from Wells Community Academy</a>&nbsp;<br />Devonta Grisson, 19, <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20130102/gage-park/teen-shot-dead-gage-park">attended Gage Park High School</a>&nbsp;<br />Rey Dorantes, 14, <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20130112/south-lawndale/two-teens-fatally-shot-friday-night">student at Clemente Community Academy</a>&nbsp;<br />Tyrone Lawson, 17, <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-01-18/news/chi-person-shot-outside-chicago-state-university-20130116_1_teen-shot-basketball-game-text-message">student at Morgan Park High School</a>&nbsp;<br />Antonio Fenner, 16, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teens-murder-goes-largely-untold-105510">freshman at Manley Career Academy</a>&nbsp;<br />Hadiya Pendleton, 15, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/south-side-high-school-mourns-loss-student-105224">sophomore at King College Prep</a>&nbsp;<br />Frances Colon, 18, <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-02-19/news/ct-met-clemente-student-homicides-20130219_1_frances-colon-clemente-student-third-student">senior at Clemente Community Academy</a>&nbsp;<br />Oscar Marquez, 17, <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20130217/heart-of-chicago/teen-dead-another-injured-west-side-shooting">junior at Marine Military Academy</a></p></p> Wed, 20 Feb 2013 15:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/tracking-student-victims-gun-violence-no-easy-task-105641 Cartel kingpin Chicago's new Public Enemy No. 1 http://www.wbez.org/news/cartel-kingpin-chicagos-new-public-enemy-no-1-105528 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/RS7018_AP105468334795(1)-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A drug kingpin in Mexico who has never set foot in Chicago has been named the city&#39;s new Public Enemy No. 1 &mdash; the same notorious label assigned to Al Capone at the height of the Prohibition-era gang wars.</p><p>The Chicago Crime Commission considers Joaquin &quot;El Chapo&quot; Guzman even more menacing than Capone because he&#39;s the leader of the Sinaloa cartel, which supplies most of the narcotics sold in the city.</p><p>&quot;What Al Capone was to beer and whiskey during Prohibition, Guzman is to narcotics,&quot; said Art Bilek, the commission&#39;s executive vice president. &quot;Of the two, Guzman is by far the greater threat. ... And he has more power and financial capability than Capone ever dreamed of.&quot;</p><p>The commission &mdash; a non-government body that tracks city crime trends &mdash; designated Capone Public Enemy No. 1 in 1930. It has declared other outlaws public enemies, but Capone was the only one deemed No. 1.</p><p>Until now.</p><p>Guzman is thought to be holed up in a mountain hideaway in western Mexico, but he ought to be treated as a local Chicago crime boss for the havoc his cartel creates in the nation&#39;s third-largest city, said Jack Riley, of the Drug Enforcement Administration, which joined the commission in affixing the title to Guzman.</p><p>The point of singling out Guzman was to inspire more public support for going after him, Bilek said.</p><p>&quot;Ninety-nine percent of the people in the United States have never heard of this man,&quot; he said. &quot;Concerted action ... must be taken now against Guzman before he establishes a bigger network and a bigger empire in the United States.&quot;</p><p>Capone based his bootlegging and other criminal enterprises in Chicago during Prohibition, when it was illegal to make or sell alcohol in the U.S. He eventually went to prison for income tax evasion, but he gained the greatest notoriety for the 1929 St. Valentine&#39;s Day Massacre that left seven rivals dead.</p><p>Yet Riley says Guzman &mdash; whose nickname means &quot;shorty&quot; in Spanish &mdash; is more ruthless than Capone, whose nickname was &quot;Scarface.&quot;</p><p>&quot;If I was to put those two guys in a ring, El Chapo would eat that guy (Capone) alive,&quot; Riley told The Associated Press in a recent interview at his office, pointing at pictures of the men.</p><p>Riley described Chicago as one of Sinaloa&#39;s most important cities, not only as a final destination for drugs but as a hub to distribute them across the U.S.</p><p>&quot;This is where Guzman turns his drugs into money,&quot; he said.</p><p>Mexican cartels that ship drugs to Chicago are rarely directly linked to slayings. But Bilek said Thursday that cartel-led trafficking is an underlying cause of territorial battles between street gangs that are blamed for rising homicide rates.</p><p>&quot;He virtually has his fingerprints on the guns that are killing the children of this city,&quot; Bilek told a news conference.</p><p>Guzman, who has been on the run since escaping from a Mexican prison in a laundry cart in 2001, is one of the world&#39;s most dangerous and most wanted fugitives. He&#39;s also one of the richest: Forbes magazine has estimated his fortune at $1 billion.</p><p>Now in his mid-50s, Guzman has been indicted on federal trafficking charges in Chicago and, if he is ever captured alive, U.S. officials want him extradited here to face trial. The U.S. government has offered a $5 million reward for his capture.</p><p>&quot;His time is coming,&quot; Riley said. &quot;I can&#39;t wait for that day.&quot;</p><p>It was only a coincidence, Bilek said Thursday, that the announcement naming Guzman Public Enemy No. 1 came on the anniversary of the St. Valentine&#39;s Day Massacre, which raised public pressure to capture Capone.</p><p>Within two years of being designated Public Enemy No. 1 in 1930, Capone had been captured, convicted and imprisoned.</p><p>With the same label now attached to Guzman, Bilek said, &quot;we hope the same thing will happen to him.&quot;</p></p> Thu, 14 Feb 2013 09:50:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cartel-kingpin-chicagos-new-public-enemy-no-1-105528 Killer mistakenly freed recaptured in Illinois http://www.wbez.org/news/killer-mistakenly-freed-recaptured-illinois-105312 <p><p>Two days after a stunning series of errors allowed a convicted murderer to walk out of a Chicago jail where he did not need to be in the first place, police recaptured the man at a northern Illinois home where he was found watching TV.</p><p>Steven L. Robbins, 44, put up no resistance Friday night as police burst through the door of a townhome in Kankakee, about 60 miles south of Chicago, said Cook County Sheriff&#39;s Office spokesman Frank Bilecki.</p><p>&quot;He was in the living room or kitchen area watching TV, taken by total surprise,&quot; Bilecki said, adding that it appears the homeowner might know an acquaintance of Robbins.</p><p>The mistaken release of the prisoner, who was serving a 60-year sentence in Indiana for murder, focused attention on an antiquated corner of the criminal justice system that still relies extensively on paper documents instead of computers in moving detainees around and keeping tabs on their court status.</p><p>The episode prompted promises of change, but also some finger-pointing about who was ultimately to blame for a mistake with precedent in the Cook County system.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re not ducking the fact we dropped the ball. We made mistakes,&quot; Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said Friday. &quot;The public deserves much more. We&#39;re going to find out what went wrong here.&quot;</p><p>In Robbins&#39; case, his transfer to Illinois to begin with was the result of a mistake, officials said.</p><p>He was brought before a Cook County Circuit Court judge on Tuesday and Wednesday over drug and armed violence charges in a case that it turns out had been dismissed in 2007. But because law enforcement authorities were still seeing an active arrest warrant, his transfer was requested and approved, according to Dart&#39;s office.</p><p>In a second lapse that Dart took responsibility for, he acknowledged that paperwork was lost that would have made it clear to Illinois officials that Robbins was to be returned to Indiana custody. As a result, he was allowed to walk out of the Cook County Jail&#39;s main gate on Wednesday evening. It took another 24 hours before the public was alerted that he was on the loose.</p><p>But Dart and Cook County State&#39;s Attorney Anita Alvarez, both prominent local Democrats, exchanged tense words Friday about who should accept responsibility for having Robbins brought to Chicago from Indiana.</p><p>Alvarez said her office had told Dart&#39;s office that Robbins&#39; drug and armed violence case was closed. But Dart&#39;s office proceeded to bring him to Chicago, she said, because of confusion over the outcome of the case and because Robbins demanded to stand trial.</p><p>&quot;The Cook County Sherriff&#39;s Police, despite the fact that the assistant state&#39;s attorney told them that they didn&#39;t have to bring him back, they thought it would be better if they did bring him back to get this all cleared up because the guy keeps writing letters demanding trial,&quot; Alvarez told reporters.</p><p>But Dart said his office sought &mdash; and was granted &mdash; permission from the state attorney&#39;s office to bring Robbins to Chicago. The sheriff showed The Associated Press a copy of the extradition request from September signed by one of Alvarez&#39;s prosecutors.</p><p>Robbins, a Gary, Ind., native, was serving a sentence for murder and weapons convictions out of Marion County in Indiana.</p><p>Witnesses to the 2002 killing told police Robbins was arguing with his wife outside a birthday party in Indianapolis when a man intervened, telling Robbins he should not hit a woman, according to court documents.</p><p>Witnesses said Robbins then retrieved a gun from a car and shot the man in the chest before fleeing. He started serving his sentence in October 2004.</p><p>He was expected to be transferred back to the state prison in Michigan City, Ind., on Saturday.</p><p>&quot;We are grateful that law enforcement caught him before he committed another crime,&quot; Indiana Department of Corrections spokesman Doug Garrison said.</p><p>It is not the first time a prisoner has been mistakenly freed from the Cook County Jail. In 2009, Jonathan Cooper, who was serving a 30-year manslaughter sentence in Mississippi, was brought to Chicago to face charges that he failed to register as a sex offender.</p><p>Prosecutors dropped the charges because, as an inmate, he could not comply with the Sex Offender Registration Act. A clerk reportedly failed to include the Mississippi sentence information in Cooper&#39;s file, and jail staff released him.</p><p>Cooper turned himself in several days later.</p></p> Sat, 02 Feb 2013 09:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/killer-mistakenly-freed-recaptured-illinois-105312 Chicago takes leading role in national gun debate http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-takes-leading-role-national-gun-debate-105305 <p><p>They are counting the dead from gunfire again in Chicago, a city awash in weapons despite having one of the strictest gun-control ordinances in the nation.</p><p>After a year in which <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-police-confirm-500-murders-2012-104615" target="_blank">Chicago&#39;s death toll surpassed 500</a>, the bloodshed has continued in 2013 at a rate of more than one killing a day. It was the city&#39;s deadliest January in more than a decade.</p><p>Now with this week&#39;s death of a 15-year-old drum majorette who had just returned from performing at President Barack Obama&#39;s inauguration, the mounting losses have put Obama&#39;s hometown at the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-officials-step-fight-against-gun-violence-105242">center of the intensifying national debate over guns</a>.</p><p>The slayings are no longer dismissed as an only-in-Chicago story about violent street gangs. They are almost a Sandy Hook Elementary School attack unfolding in slow motion: an honor student gunned down at a high school basketball game, two men in their 40s killed outside a hamburger stand, a woman whose bullet-riddled body was <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/woman-fatally-shot-van-chicago-roadway-105273" target="_blank">found early Friday</a> in a van on the world-famous Lake Shore Drive.</p><p>Both gun-rights and gun-control advocates are seizing on the city&#39;s woes &mdash; one side to push for greater access to guns for self-defense, the other to seek greater restrictions on gun sales.</p><p>&quot;You&#39;ve got these two philosophies that are butting heads, and they&#39;re butting heads in the biggest city in the middle of the United States,&quot; said David Workman, of the Bellevue, Wa.-based Second Amendment Foundation. &quot;And both sides are holding up Chicago as a punching bag.&quot;</p><p>Obama has made sure to mention Chicago as he laments last year&#39;s shooting rampages in a Colorado movie theater and Newtown, Conn., and again when he offered condolences to the family of Hadiya Pendleton, the promising teen who was shot to death Tuesday as she talked with friends <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-01/kenwood-blues-part-ii-105255">after school in a park</a> about a mile from Obama&#39;s Chicago home.</p><p>&quot;I mean what is absolutely true is that, if you are just creating a bunch of pockets of gun laws without having sort of, a unified, integrated system &mdash; for example, of background checks &mdash; then ... it&#39;s going to be a lot harder for an individual community, a single community, to protect itself from this kind of gun violence,&quot; the president said this week in an interview with Telemundo.</p><p>His political opponents are making the most of the body count, too.</p><p>Newt Gingrich says he&#39;s trying to persuade House Republicans to hold hearings on Chicago&#39;s shootings. During an interview on CBS News, Gingrich called the city &quot;the murder capital of the United States,&quot; adding, &quot;If gun control works, Chicago ought to be safe.&quot;</p><p>Critics of gun control say Chicago&#39;s spike in homicides offers clear evidence that sharply restricting weapons endangers the public. The city banned handguns until a 2010 Supreme Court ruling threw out the ban. Chicago then adopted a strict gun ordinance that requires gun owners to be fingerprinted, undergo a background check, pass a training class and pay fees that can be higher than the price of the weapons.</p><p>&quot;If you restrict firearms, only criminals have firearms,&quot; said Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association. &quot;In the city of Chicago, the citizens are simply looked at as easy prey because it is so difficult to have a firearm at home or your business for self-defense.&quot;</p><p>From the other side comes another familiar argument &mdash; that Chicago illustrates the need for tougher restrictions because existing laws in the city and beyond its borders in the suburbs or in Indiana have made it too easy for criminals to get guns and too difficult to lock them up when they are caught.</p><p>Gingrich &quot;has been in Chicago, and he can see we don&#39;t have a Berlin-type wall with checkpoints around it,&quot; said Rep. Mike Quigley, a Chicago Democrat. &quot;You can go to any gun show in Indiana ... and get a gun without a background check.&quot;</p><p>Statistics show that more than half of the guns seized by Chicago police in the last 12 years came from other states.</p><p>And a University of Chicago study found that more than 1,300 guns confiscated by police since 2008 were purchased at a single store just outside city limits. More than 270 were used in crimes.</p><p>Chicago leaders have embraced the city&#39;s role in the debate.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-mayor-rahm-emanuel-chokes-he-talks-about-shooting-death-15-year-old-chicago-girl-105225">Mayor Rahm Emanuel</a> is proposing a law to increase jail time for anyone who fails to report guns that have been lost, stolen or sold. At the U.S. Conference of Mayors, he urged fellow leaders to follow his example and sever financial ties with gun manufacturers that oppose gun-reform legislation.</p><p>His police superintendent, Garry McCarthy, has repeatedly compared the laws in Chicago and New York, where he spent the bulk of his career on the city&#39;s police force.</p><p>&quot;When people get caught with guns in New York, they go to jail,&quot; McCarthy said, pointing to the case of Plaxico Burress, the NFL football player who only had to shoot himself accidentally in the leg to land in prison for 20 months.</p><p>Although Chicago has many gun laws on the books, the maximum penalties are typically no more than six months in jail, &quot;which is something that a criminal laughs at,&quot; McCarthy said.</p><p>In 2012, Chicago police seized more than 7,400 guns &mdash; about three times more than officers in New York. In the first three-plus weeks of this year, police seized 450 guns, compared with 99 in New York. McCarthy says that disparity helps explain why Chicago&#39;s homicide rate rose last year while New York&#39;s fell to a historic low.</p><p>For <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/kenwood-residents-react-policing-policies-105267">residents of some troubled neighborhoods</a>, the abundance of weapons helps explain all the gunshots they hear.</p><p>&quot;People are afraid to go out, sit on their porches,&quot; said Nathaniel Pendleton, the grand uncle of Hadiya Pendleton. &quot;It&#39;s horrific. Every family is suffering.&quot;</p><p>Other Illinois lawmakers are making <a href="http://www.wbez.org/dart-seize-some-felons-guns-without-warrant-105259">proposals</a> of their own. Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin wants to crack down on &quot;straw purchasing&quot; by creating federal penalties for anyone who buys guns for criminals who are prohibited from doing so.</p><p>Illinois&#39; other senator, Republican Mark Kirk, who recently returned to Congress after a stroke, joined Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York to introduce legislation that would for the first time make gun trafficking a federal crime.</p><p>It was Pendleton&#39;s death that drew Chicago fully into the debate in a way that last year&#39;s 506 gun slayings and the 43 so far this year did not.</p><p>When 20 first-graders and six teachers were killed in Connecticut, the massacre &quot;woke up the soccer mom,&quot; said the Rev. Michael Pfleger, a Catholic priest and a prominent community activist on the city&#39;s South Side. &quot;The soccer mom doesn&#39;t identify with the kids that got killed this weekend in Chicago.&quot;</p><p>But Pfleger said the slaying of a popular student with dreams of becoming a doctor or lawyer cast Chicago&#39;s violence in a different light.</p><p>&quot;This was a young girl,&quot; he said. &quot;And I talk to people in the suburbs and they&#39;re devastated by this.&quot;</p></p> Fri, 01 Feb 2013 14:55:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-takes-leading-role-national-gun-debate-105305 Indiana murderer mistakenly freed in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/indiana-murderer-mistakenly-freed-chicago-105276 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/o-STEVEN-ROBBINS-facebook.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F77467473&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Authorities in Illinois and Indiana searched Friday for a convicted murderer who was mistakenly released after a Chicago court appearance, as questions swirled about what caused the mix-up and why he was brought from his Indiana prison cell in the first place.</p><p>Steven L. Robbins, 44, was serving a 60-year sentence for murder in Indiana and was brought to Chicago this week in a separate case involving drug and armed violence charges &mdash; a case that a prosecutor revealed Friday had actually been dismissed in 2007.</p><p>After appearing before a Cook County Circuit Court judge, Robbins was taken to the Cook County Jail on Chicago&#39;s South Side and was released hours later, instead of being sent back to Indiana to continue his murder sentence. The public was not alerted that he was on the loose for about 24 hours.</p><p>Cook County State&#39;s Attorney Anita Alvarez on Friday raised the possibility that though the charges in Illinois were dismissed, a clerical error might have kept law enforcement authorities from seeing that the arrest warrant had been quashed. Robbins had written several letters to the court demanding to face trial, she said.</p><p>&quot;The Cook County Sherriff&#39;s Police, despite the fact that the assistant state&#39;s attorney told them that they didn&#39;t have to bring him back, they thought it would be better if they did bring him back to get this all cleared up because the guy keeps writing letters demanding trial,&quot; Alvarez told reporters.</p><p>Once in Chicago, Robbins appeared Wednesday before a judge who made it clear on the record that he no longer had any pending case in Illinois and still had time to serve in Indiana, Alvarez said.</p><p>As far as his release, the Cook County Sheriff&#39;s Office suggested that also might have involved a clerical error. Spokesman Frank Bilecki said that when Robbins was taken back to Cook County Jail, there was no paperwork in his file indicating that he should be held, raising the possibility that it was misplaced.</p><p>But the Indiana Department of Corrections says it submitted paperwork telling Illinois officials that Robbins was supposed to be returned to Indiana.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s quite clear that all of the paperwork from IDOC was in order, so that they would have known that he was supposed to be returned to us,&quot; spokesman Douglas Garrison said.</p><p>Garrison read for WBEZ the actual documtation that tells not to release the prisoner. &quot;It says &#39;Do not release this offender from court before contacting the Indiana State Prison release coordinator. There&#39;s no question that they know to bring him back,&quot; Garrison said.</p><p>Federal and local law enforcement officers searching for Robbins were knocking on doors in Illinois and Indiana on Friday, including those of his friends and relatives, Bilecki said.</p><p>Robbins, a Gary, Ind., native, was serving a sentence for murder and weapons convictions out of Marion County in Indiana. Reports of Robbins at the time in Northwest Indiana newspapers describe Robbins of being from Indianapolis. Authorities say he has family both in Northwest Indiana and Bloomington, Indiana, south of Indianapolis.</p><p>Witnesses to the 2002 killing told police that Robbins was arguing with his wife outside a birthday party in Indianapolis when a man intervened, telling Robbins he should not hit a woman, according to court documents. The witnesses said Robbins then retrieved a gun from a car and shot the man, Rutland Melton, in the chest before fleeing.</p><p>He started serving his sentence in October 2004 and his earliest projected release date was more than 16 years from now, on June 29, 2029.</p><p>It is not the first time a prisoner has been mistakenly freed from the Cook County Jail.</p><p>In 2009, Jonathan Cooper, who was serving a 30-year manslaughter sentence in Mississippi, was brought to Chicago to face charges that he failed to register as a sex offender.</p><p>Prosecutors dropped the charges because, as an inmate, he could not comply with the Sex Offender Registration Act.</p><p>A clerk reportedly failed to include the Mississippi sentence information in Cooper&#39;s file, and jail staff released him.</p><p>Cooper turned himself in several days later.</p><p>In a more recent embarrassment for law enforcement officials in Chicago, two convicted bank robbers escaped from a high-rise federal lockup in December by climbing down the side of the building on a rope made of bed sheets and jumping into a cab. Authorities recaptured both men, one of whom remained on the run for about two weeks. Officials have yet to provide a public explanation of the jailbreak.</p></p> Fri, 01 Feb 2013 09:20:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/indiana-murderer-mistakenly-freed-chicago-105276 Boxing legend’s daughter fighting youth violence in the ring http://www.wbez.org/news/boxing-legend%E2%80%99s-daughter-fighting-youth-violence-ring-105016 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F75455774&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/R.%20Ali1.jpg" style="height: 247px; width: 340px; float: left;" title="Rasheda Ali announces new anti-violence youth initiative (Judith Ruiz-Branch)" /></div><p>Boxing legend Muhammad Ali&rsquo;s daughter, Rasheda Ali, is trying to knock out youth violence in Chicago by getting more kids in the ring and off of the streets.</p><p>She teamed up with the the Illinois State Crime Commission and Police Athletic League of Illinois Thursday to unveil an initiative that she said hits close to home.</p><p>Ali witnessed the effects of gun violence growing up in Chicago.</p><p>Her cousin was an innocent bystander when he was shot and killed in 1997.</p><p>&ldquo;He was an honor roll student and not affiliated with any gangs,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Our family has been devastated ever since, we&rsquo;ll never get over this loss. If I can save at least one child from being gunned down in front of their home, then this work that we&rsquo;re doing here today is worth it.&rdquo;</p><p>Most of the team assembled for Ali&rsquo;s anti-violence youth initiative, like Ali, have also personally encountered gun violence.</p><p>Thomas Hayes, program and event director with the Chicago Park District said his experience&nbsp; with gun violence led him to the cause.</p><p>Hayes was just a teenager when he was shot in the arm while waiting at a bus stop on the South Side.</p><p>&ldquo;It just goes to show you, you don&rsquo;t have to be a gang member to get into trouble, to get shot,&rdquo; Hayes said.</p><p>Hayes said, through the help of many people involved in the boxing initiative, he was able to stay on the right track and graduate from high school and college.</p><p>Jerry Elsner, executive director with the Illinois Crime Commission, is a former boxer who grew up on the South Side.&nbsp;</p><p>He said the key to the program is that it goes beyond just attacking the violence where it&rsquo;s at.</p><p>&ldquo;All the marching, all the praying, all the singing ain&rsquo;t going to do no good,&rdquo; Elsner said.</p><p>Elsner said boxing can help to fill a void for a lot of kids that grew up like him, while providing an outlet for their aggression.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Somebody has to show you and tell you you&rsquo;re a winner,&rdquo; Elsner said. &ldquo;Every guy in Chicago and in the gangs and whatever want to be a tough guy... and... they can be.&rdquo;</p><p>The program will host their first boxing event on May 5..</p><p>About 40 youth boxers are expected to be featured.</p><p>Children involved in the program who maintain a &ldquo;B&rdquo; average in school and are involved in the required community service can qualify for college scholarships.</p></p> Thu, 17 Jan 2013 16:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/boxing-legend%E2%80%99s-daughter-fighting-youth-violence-ring-105016