LOGAN SQUARE — A gang war between the Maniac Latin Disciples and the Spanish Cobras is to blame for a string of recent shootings in Hermosa and Logan Square, according to police.
It all started several weeks ago, when a high-ranking gang member got out of prison, 25th Police District Sgt. Thomas Cotter told Block Club at an unrelated CAPS meeting Thursday evening. The gang member was looking to reclaim old turf that he allegedly lost while he was locked up, Cotter said.
The best way to do that, 25th Police District beat facilitator Veronica Bedoya said, was to “bring in new blood,” or recruit new members. To prove themselves, the soon-to-be new gang members, many of them teenagers, hit the streets, guns in tow.
What followed was a string of shootings in mid-to-late April that shook the community.
On April 20, around 3:30 a.m., two men, ages 32 and 23, were injured in a shooting in the 1900 block of North Keystone Avenue. The 32-year-old’s condition was not known, with police saying only that he was “stable.” The 23-year-old was listed in good condition.
On April 21, a 31-year-old man was shot in the 4400 block of West Armitage Avenue. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition.
On April 23, a 33-year-old man was critically injured in a shooting near the border of Hermosa and Logan Square. He was found in the 2100 block of North Pulaski Road.
And, on April 24, a 25-year-old man was shot in the face in the 3600 block of West Armitage Avenue. Police could not provide his condition, saying only that he was “stable.”
Another shooting — this one, fatal — happened in the area during that same time period, but officials said it stemmed from a domestic dispute — not the gang war.
This shooting happened around 10:45 p.m. April 17. Brandon Delgado, 18, was inside a second-floor apartment in the 2200 block of North Avers Avenue when a group of men or boys came in and opened fire. Delgado, who was hit multiple times throughout his body, was pronounced dead at 10:55 p.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.
In response to the uptick in violence, the 25th Police District held an outdoor roll call Monday evening at Armitage and Karlov avenues, near where the shootings occurred. Roll calls are a common tactic used by Chicago police to boost their visibility after ugly incidents and build new relationships in the process.
The district has also beefed up its patrols along the Armitage Avenue corridor, stationing squad cars there to closely monitor activity in the area.
Cotter said “things have calmed down” over the last week or so thanks to the increased police presence.
In an email newsletter to constituents, Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, whose 35th Ward includes parts of Hermosa and Logan Square, applauded the police district for taking steps to “keep our community safe.”
Ramirez-Rosa added that he’s committed to tackling the “root causes of crime” at the city level.
“As research has consistently shown, the best investment a city can make in reducing crime is an investment in our communities and our youth,” Ramirez-Rosa wrote.
“I look forward to working with Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot and my colleagues to pursue a public safety strategy that invests in education, afterschool programs, and job programs.”
Also in his newsletter, Ramirez-Rosa told constituents one of the shooters has been taken into custody.
‘In two blocks, anything can happen’
One of the shootings happened down the block from the dance studio En Las Tablas Performing Arts, 4111 W. Armitage Ave., and youth organization The Miracle Center, 2311 N. Pulaski Rd., where Belmont-Cragin resident Elena Magdaleno’s kids, ages 17 and 13, regularly go to practice performing arts.
As someone whose family routinely traverses the area, Magdaleno called the recent spate of violence “very concerning.”
“No matter how many times I talk to [my kids] about safety and keeping headphones out of their ears, they can’t be faster than the bullet. It’s insane,” Magdaleno said.
Magdaleno said she was astonished by a recent conversation she had with her son. He called to tell her that his Logan Square school — Marine Leadership Academy — was on lockdown because of a shooting and “he said it in a way that was normal.”
“Saying something like that is normal. … It was disturbing,” she said.
Shootings in the Hermosa, Logan Square and Belmont-Cragin area are not uncommon, but what happened in April was. Usually, the area sees flare ups here and there — not a string of violence over the course of a few days, according to Bedoya, the 25th District beat facilitator.
Still, having lived in neighboring Belmont-Cragin for 20 years and serving as beat facilitator for 10 of them, Bedoya said the recent gun violence, while scary, isn’t as bad as it’s ever been.
“Was it bad? Yes. Has it been worse? Yes,” Bedoya said.
Bedoya said one problem she’s noticed is residents in the area aren’t doing enough to help police. Most residents don’t go to CAPS meetings at all and the ones who do only show up when a crime happens on their block and then don’t show up again for months at a time.
“If something’s happening on their block, they’re there in a heartbeat, but the next meeting, you don’t see them. If the police have an update, they’re not there to hear it,” she said.
Like Ramirez-Rosa, Magdaleno applauded the police district for their concerted efforts. But, she said, ridding the area, and the city, of gun violence is a “slow process.”
Magdaleno has made a habit out of staying on the phone with her daughter as she gets off the bus out of fear she might get caught in the crossfire. And she doesn’t see that practice ending anytime soon.
“In two blocks, anything can happen,” she said.
Do stories like this matter to you? Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.