Chicago Police 19th District Executive Officer Capt. Mike Ryan insists on equipping the squad cars under his command with video cameras. In the early hours of Sept. 11, one of those cameras captured officers in pursuit of a suspicious vehicle. “A person in the car reaches out, fires two shots,” said Ryan. “You see it–’bang, bang.’ Without film, these guys would have never been charged.”
“These guys” include Luis Zapata, 22, who was charged with attempted murder in the shootout, which took place on the 2200 block of W. Barry Ave.
Speaking at Monday night’s meeting of the Hamlin Park Neighbors, Ryan was quick to point out that Zapata, on CPD’s radar since he was 12 years old, is one of the last remaining active gang members residing in the Hamlin Park area; removing his influence will have a positive effect on the neighborhood.
“There’s very few of these guys left…. It’s like when you almost get the house clean, there’s that one spot left,” said Ryan. “Here we have a very very low amount of gang activity…but one crime is too many.”
Sgt. Jason Clark noted that the gang presence, formerly based out of the Lathrop Homes, has dispersed, with members returning periodically to their old stomping grounds for “chest thumping.”
“The drug trade’s gone,” said Clark, explaining that neighborhood gangs sold largely to residents of Lathrop, which is now marked for redevelopment. “You’re not going to have supply if the demand is gone. With the drug trade gone, so are the gang bangers.”
To emphasize CPD’s commitment to maintaining peace around Hamlin Park, officers from the 19th District mustered last
Sunday Saturday in an outdoor roll call in the park. Sgt. Clark urged residents to remain vigilant and to call 9-1-1 if gang members are spied in the vicinity.
“We’ll pounce on it,” he said. “Call us, we’ll come over and we’ll roust them.”