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Uptown in the News  

March 28, 2007
Uptown Murder Focus of CAPS Meeting
By Lorraine Swanson Staff Writer

Wary Uptown residents turned out in larger numbers than usual for a 23rd District CAPS meeting on March 20 for updates on a murder that occurred on the 800 block of West Lakeside Place and an escalation in gang activity in the neighborhood.

Around 5 p.m. March 15, a 19-year-old man was found stabbed to death in his Lakeside Place apartment by his 18-year-old roommate. The victim, Jonathan Fields, was reported last being seen march 14.

Sgt. Alex Silva of the 23rd District Police told residents that he contacted Area 3 detectives prior to the evening’s CAPS beat meeting.

“It’s still under investigation,” Silva said.

“(Area 3 detectives) may have something that they don’t want to share. As far as possible motives, haven’t heard anything official. It may involve narcotics in some way, but its not gang related. Other than that, there isn’t a lot of information,” Silva added.

“I don’t have the details, just the original case report with the facts and officer’s observations. The police report mentioned the back door (to the victim’s unit) being open, but didn’t mention if it was a break-in or if the door was just left open,” Silva added.

Dale Lenig, who also lives in the victim’s apartment complex, said that the front door of their building is often propped open by neighbors from across the street who use the building’s laundry facilities.. Lenig described Fields and his roommate as quiet neighbors.”

They kept to themselves but there was a revolving door to their apartment,” Lenig stated, adding that the unit had been broken into two weeks prior to the homicide.

Lenig said that police combed the 16-unit building, questioning residents the day Fields’ body was discovered.

“I told police I thought I heard a large thud Wednesday evening around 9:45 p.m., like a sofa being dropped. It caught my attention as I walked my dogs by,” Lenig added.

Gail Bernoff, another Lakeside Place resident, said she wanted more details.

“It makes me uneasy that the entry was in the middle of the day. If the victim had a relationship with (the offender) that’s one thing, but if it’s a total stranger…” Bernoff said.

Residents also grilled police about an increased number of shootings in the area bounded by Wilson, Broadway, Lawrence and Lake Michigan, including a shooting in front of the Wilson CTA L Station March 13, in which a man was wounded.

Around 6 p.m. March 19, 23rd District police responded to a call of shots fired at Clarendon and Wilson. Police arrested a 17-year-old male with an extensive arrest record. Silva said the youth allegedly fired shots over a car occupied by an off-duty Chicago police officer who was working as a security guard.

The youth was found moments later hiding beneath a car on the 700 block of West Wilson Avenue. Police could not find the gun.

Silva said that since the arrests of high-ranking street gang members last October, area gangs are re-negotiating street turf.

“Some people might call it war, but it’s a definitely a conflict with two factions deciding to work together against their opponents, if you will,” Silva said.

Asked if crime is escalating in the 23rd District, Silva reported that crime is down 5 percent district-wide.

“But it may not seem like it,” he said.

For the three-month period between December and February police made 567 arrests in the 11th 12th and 13th precincts of the 23rd District.

“We got 567 people in Uptown who are causing a lot of trouble and are going to other places to get arrested. That’s a small percentage of people making life miserable for the thousands of already law-abiding Uptown residents,” he stated.

Ten people arrested in the 11th precinct during the same period were chronic repeat offenders, including one individual who was arrested 61 times. Other repeat offenders from the group of 10 racked up 45, 33 and 21 arrests.

“We’re not talking about drinking in the park or disorderly conduct arrests,” Silva stated

“I find it very frustrating as an officer that cases get dismissed because a judge doesn’t see the importance of locking someone away because of a relatively small amount of narcotics. What we’re having is the same people coming out and re-offending all over again,” he added.

Calls made to 911 in the 23rd District Beat 12 decreased from 1,033 in January to 704 calls in February. Of those calls, only nine were for selling narcotics.

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