Chicago police officers appear to be focusing on a single house in the 3100 block of North Hoyne Avenue in their effort to remove a persistent gang element from the neighborhood around Hamlin Park. In the meantime, more details are emerging about the March 16 shooting in the area, which mobilized neighbors to demand action to make the area safer.
19th District Executive Officer Capt. Mike Ryan told attendees at Wednesday night’s CAPS meeting that police have made no arrests in the most recent shooting, suggesting the lack of progress in the case is because the victim — a 36-year-old man described as an “older” former gang member — has refused to cooperate with investigators. “Sometimes our victims are not as cooperative as we’d like them to be,” Ryan said. “In order to get charges from the State’s Attorney, you have to have complete cooperation from our victims.”
Capt. Ryan said the victim had moved into the area back in January and became involved in an “instant” conflict with existing gang members on Hoyne. On the night of March 16, a witness tells Roscoe View Journal the victim drove a pickup truck the wrong way south down Hoyne around 11:30 p.m. and got into an argument with as many as four or five people on the block. It’s then that the man was shot in the cheek by people in a passing truck.
The victim then turned onto West Fletcher Street, according to Capt. Ryan, which is where police and EMS crews found him. This information is an adjustment from initial police reports that suggested the shooting actually happened on Fletcher. The March 16 shooting is the third to occur in a two-block stretch on North Hoyne near Hamlin Park since October 2011.
Neighbors have identified a single house on Hoyne as being a “problem” house. Capt. Ryan confirmed that police have “a couple of things going on” targeted at that house, but refused to divulge further information. Last month, Roscoe View Journal reported that police were working with building inspectors to target the owners of buildings known to be “safe havens” for gang activity. At least one such haven has since closed: INA Pantry, 2100 W. Barry St., went out of business last Sunday in what the manager of the building described as an attempt to “get rid of that garbage” near the park.
For now, Capt. Ryan confirmed that the 19th District has dedicated a two-officer “park car” to running gang missions in the area around Hamlin Park, and expressed optimism that as summer approaches and more park activities like softball and swimming get underway, gang activity in the area will decrease.