By MICHAEL BUSHNELL
December 26, 2012
The concern on the faces of area residents was obvious as they filed in to the community room at the Mattie Rhodes Center on North Topping Dec. 19. Recent gang related shootings near Budd Park and on 24th and Denver were on the forefront of everyone’s mind.
“I don’t feel safe in my community anymore,” said one area woman whose son is a student at Northeast High School. “The allure of the gang life is strong to these kids.”
Another neighborhood resident cited the school shootings in Connecticut, noting safety in and around area schools was a prime concern.
Police Officers Ken Allen and Ken Secaida, who work East Patrol’s 310 Sector that includes most of Northeast, said the possible reason Budd Park has been the site of so many recent incidents is that the southwest corner of the park is a contested area between two area gangs.
“It’s a turf war,” Secaida said of the most recent shooting that left two juveniles injured after a rival gang member pulled out a shotgun and began shooting, allegedly for tagging a fence with a rival gang tag.
Indian Mound Neighborhood President Katie Greer noted the location of a white, stockade style fence near the park that acts as a primitive message board for area gangs being a catalyst for violence.
“The fence has been tagged so many times, it’s an invitation for gang members to throw up a tag,” Greer said. “The house where the fence is located is owned by an absentee landlord who is unresponsive and refuses to remedy the problem.”
Greer added that the city’s Neighborhood and Community Services Department has been unable to locate the owner(s) to have them cited for allowing graffiti to remain on their property for more than the allotted 48 hours.
When the discussion turned toward the possibility of targeting additional police resources to this area of Indian Mound to address the recent spate of violent crime, it was confirmed by the officers that there are no formal “Hot Spots” in Northeast. Hot Spots are one of Chief Darryl Forté’s primary crime fighting programs that allocates extra patrol resources to a specific area where high crime is an ongoing issue.
“That shocked me,” said Dave Norton, a long-time Indian Mound resident. “Four or five murders in this area of Indian Mound over the last year and there’s no designated Hot Spot here? That really surprises me.”
In the end, residents went away with few specifics about the recent spate of violent crimes but meeting organizers and neighborhood leaders who were present vowed to pressure police officials to designate a Hot Spot in the Indian Mound neighborhood.
“It’s pretty obvious we need some additional police help to solve these problems,” Greer said. “We’re ready to have those conversations with police because in the end, everyone benefits when the neighborhood is safer.”
Recent shootings/homicides, St. John corridor, east of Quincy Avenue
March 19: Rio Barnes Jauregui-Ellis, shot, Budd Park Esplenade and Denver Ave.
April 19: James Conklin, shot, 405 N. Wheeling
June 21: Donald Maxey, shot, St. John and Topping
Aug. 4: Donald Bierra III, shot, 513 Quincy Ave.
Sept. 24: St. John and Oakley, double shooting, one paralyzed
Sept. 25: 100 block S. Belmont, double shooting
Nov. 11: Four teens wounded, St. John and Hardesty, early morning shooting
Dec. 11: Two teens injured in shooting in Budd Park