Police acknowledged ongoing monitoring of gang activity along Drexel Avenue after a civilian asked about a Dec. 13 shooting on the 5000 block of the street at a Dec. 15 Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy meeting.
"The police were on scene. The police are aware of who the possible shooter was. There were shell casings recovered from a firearm there at that same time," Cmdr. Joshua Wallace said of the early Sunday morning shooting.
Wallace said a building on Drexel was the target, not an individual, and confirmed no one has been arrested.
"The whole story's a bit convoluted," he said. "I can't get into (it), because it's still under investigation, but the actual target of the shooting is not an actual person. It's actually the building itself."
It was the second time in recent years that gang activity on Drexel Avenue has come up at a local 2nd District CAPS meeting. In July 2019, a family came to a meeting after a shooting at 54th Street and Maryland Avenue left a man wounded in the street, saying they feared for their child's safety; the family later moved.
Wallace could not say if the incidents were related, though he did say the police are aware of some of the problems this year along Drexel. He said there are several gang problems going on in the district, including along Drexel; he could not comment on the size of the gangs, but he said they were involved in narcotic sales, gunplay and "things of that nature."
"What we've seen over there is individuals hanging out more than usual," he said. "We do have our tactical teams deployed in that area to address those instances. I know this shots-fired incident we had over the weekend, this was very early in the morning, very unusual for that area at that time of day."
While he noted that "some of the things some citizens perceive is criminal is not necessarily criminal," Wallace suggested anyone who sees something that makes them uncomfortable to call the police and give a description of what they see and let police make the determination of whether or not they need to respond to it.
"If people want to stand outside, they want to be outside, especially after being cooped up in the house for so many months, but if people do feel uncomfortable, it if their right to call the police and tell them what they're seeing, to the best of their ability," he said.
For Beat 233 — between 51st and 55th streets and between Cottage Grove to Woodlawn avenues, plus Washington Park — there were no homicides or shootings during the reporting period, between Nov. 1 and Dec. 14, but one robbery, 60 investigatory stops and 12 events detected by ShotSpotter, the Police Department's gunshot detection system spread throughout Chicago. Police responded to 16 reports of theft, six motor vehicle thefts, an assault and a robbery.
For Beat 234 — between Hyde Park Boulevard, 55th Street, Woodlawn Avenue and the lakefront — there were no homicides or robberies during the reporting period but five robberies, six arrests, 70 traffic stops, seven investigative stops and three ShotSpotter events. Police responded to 15 reports of theft, five robberies, three assaults, three batteries, three motor vehicle thefts and one burglary.
For Beat 235 — Hyde Park south of 55th Street — there were no homicides but one shooting, six robberies, three arrests, 48 traffic stops, six investigatory stops and seven ShotSpotter events. Police responded to 18 calls for service over theft, six robberies, three burglaries, two batteries, an assault, a criminal sexual assault and a motor vehicle theft.
Civilian facilitator Howard Niden raised the issue of motorists not stopping at stop signs along Hyde Park Boulevard at 51st, 53rd and 54th streets. Another civilian said motorists are running stop signs on 53rd Street at University and Greenwood avenues.
Sgt. Yolanda Walton proposed a joint traffic mission with the University of Chicago Police Department in response; representatives said they would talk to their supervisors about the proposal and said they would show special attention to the problem areas themselves.
A resident of the Park Shore Building, 1765 E. 55th St., voiced concerns about prostitution occurring in the parking lot, though she reported less activity than in the summertime; Walton asked the resident to observe the activity over the proceeding month and report back at the next CAPS meeting.
After a rush of local thefts of unoccupied, running motor vehicles late this fall, Wallace said there has been a recent decline in the Hyde Park area but that police are still seeing instances elsewhere in the 2nd District, which covers Washington Park and Bronzeville. He urged motorists who leave their vehicles running unattended while making deliveries or to warm up in the morning to stop doing that.
"It is a serious issue," he said. "We don't want those cars to be stolen and used for other criminal matters."
Because of the consent decree, CAPS meetings will be done by beat in 2021; because of the pandemic, they will continue to meet virtually, now at the same Zoom link.
The meetings will be held bimonthly. Links for registering are: