HUMBOLDT PARK— Early Monday evening, a 44-year-old woman walking down a residential street in Humboldt Park got caught in the crossfire between two groups of people shooting at each other. She was shot in the back.
The incident, in the 1500 block of North Rockwell, follows the fatal shooting of a man in April killed two blocks away. Some Rockwell neighbors, who say the man killed in April lived on their block, are considering moving out.
“It was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Kelly Hogan, who called 911 after shots rang out at 6:54 p.m. Monday.
“I was loading stuff out of my car and heard bam bam bam. ... I saw the woman on the sidewalk, face down. It’s weird, it could have been me. There are people walking dogs, kids on bicycles at that time. It’s happening too much. I can’t live where this is a normal thing,” Hogan said.
A singer who had just spent three weeks on the road on tour with The Decemberists, Hogan came home on Monday.
The woman who was shot was walking home at the time and according to the official police report, she “tried to get out of the way, [of the gunfire], but was struck in the right lower back.” As of late Wednesday, she was still hospitalized and is expected to survive the shooting.
Veronica Ramirez, a grandmother of five who lives in a third-floor apartment on the block, was watching television when she heard the shots.
“My husband was just walking the dog there, two minutes before [the woman was shot],” Ramirez said, adding, “It really scared my kids who were outside. The people just shooting for nothing. I don’t want to stay here.”
Ramirez, who has lived on the block for 20 years, said she is planning to move out, possibly to suburban Vernon Hills.
Initially police said the woman was shot in the 1500 block of North Le Moyne in Noble Square, however, they later updated the report to reflect the correct address, near the corner of Rockwell and Le Moyne in Humboldt Park.
On Wednesday, two days after the shooting, Shakespeare District police held a partial roll call and “positive loitering” event with neighbors at the corner where the woman had been gunned down. Ald. Joe Moreno participated as well. The police district tweeted, “We are dedicated to partnering with you to protect our great neighborhood.”
About 20 officers, half on bike, and about as many community members attended the event. Several other bike officers could not be there because they were busy responding to a carjacking in nearby Bucktown.
Reached on Thursday, Moreno said “police will be adding additional forces tonight” but did not elaborate further.
Neighbors say they are concerned and want more information on how the woman is doing and what is being done to curb the violence.
James Miller, who has lived on the block for three years but grew up in other parts of Humboldt Park, said he was just getting home from work on Monday night when he saw the ambulance and police cars.
“I’m definitely concerned. I have a son who is in 8th grade. Crime is lower than it was back in the day, though,” Miller said. He defined “back in the day” as the late 90s and early aughts.
Edgar Rodriguez, a pastor who lives a block away from where the shooting happened and is the founder of the grassroots group Humboldt Park Peace Corps, said that the community’s reaction to the incident “really depends on who you speak with.”
“From the white part of the community or the ethnically diverse hipster culture, there is a fear, and for others a growing frustration that this continues,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriquez said the shooting has prompted some of the block’s newer residents who live in recently built condos to consider leaving the neighborhood.
“Quite a few of the condo residents are saying if this continues, moving out is what will happen,” Rodriguez said.
In the four years he’s lived in the area where the shooting on Monday happened, Rodriguez said the violence has unfortunately gotten worse and more so since the fatal April shooting.
“Since then [April] the gang war has escalated to a degree that has definitely been worse than it has been in the last 4-5 years,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez believes the gang activity will go down the more that neighbors are present. He’s organizing a cookout for neighbors in the 1300 block of North Rockwell on June 29 and says he expects folks from neighboring blocks to attend as well.
“The gang activity, we are absolutely against it, but you get to know these young men and their stories and you hear why [they join] and you can understand. There’s anger, lack of fathers, and opportunities, where they can’t get a job after prison,” he said.
Hogan lived in Humboldt Park from 2001-2004, not far from where she lives now, and came back in 2016 with some reservations. But her landlord assured her that the crime situation had “gotten much better” and was not as bad as it was in the early aughts.
“I didn’t want to move back, but it was an affordable place and I have two dogs. [The crime] makes me more mad than scared, there are families that live here,” Hogan said.
Hogan was not aware of the Wednesday roll call happening but she saw the large police presence on her block.
Originally from Atlanta and the daughter of a police officer, Hogan said she was glad to see so many police officers on the street and she is thankful for folks like Rodriguez.
After the shooting, Hogan texted her landlord to let him know that she was planning to move as soon as she can find a new place to live and a time to move that will fit with her busy touring schedule.
“I don’t want to sound like an entitled person. I am a musician living in a very small basement apartment doing the best I can and I know there are neighborhoods way worse than ours. For me personally, Monday was the ‘nope, I gotta go’ moment. I am working on my exit plan,” Hogan said.
Or, as Hogan also put it on Twitter, “I tried. I’m tired. I’m fried. I’m done.”