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Jefferson Park, Portage Park, Norwood Park

A Month After 19-Year-Old Slain In Jefferson Park, Family Members And Neighbors Wait For Justice

Meagan Bilbo was likely the unintended victim of a gang-related shooting, police said. But a month after officers claimed an arrest was imminent, her family feels left in the dark.

Meagan Bilbo's friends honored her life with a vigil at Oz Park Dec. 8, 2021. The 19-year-old was fatally shot in Jefferson Park Dec. 5.
Ariel Parrella-Aureli/Block Club Chicago; Provided
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JEFFERSON PARK — More than a month after 19-year-old Meagan Bilbo was fatally shot while leaving a party in a Jefferson Park storefront, police have made no arrests, prompting her family and neighbors to push for justice.

At a safety meeting held in December in response to the shooting and others on the Far Northwest Side, detectives said an arrest was forthcoming. But it never happened, and police spokesperson Karie James said the investigation is ongoing and could not provide additional information.

Bilbo’s family said the lack of an arrest has been hard on them. They want to see justice for the young artist, who police believe was the unintended target of a gang-related shooting.

“I’ve never been angrier in my life, but I’m grateful for all the neighbors, friends and family who are helping us to remember Meagan every day,” said the victim’s sister Bridget Bilbo.

Aside from detectives questioning some people about the shooting, the family has received no updates on the investigation, she said, adding that they are trying to remember that homicide investigations can take time, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

Longtime Jefferson Park business owner Freddy Pecoraro, who operates two businesses near where the shooting occurred, also wants to see justice for Meagan Bilbo.

“This 19-year-old girl is being pushed to the side,” Pecoraro said. “Her parents are never going to recover from this.”

Given the nearly 800 homicides in Chicago in 2021, he worries the investigation will stall due to a lack of detectives and manpower within the police department.

Credit: Ariel Parrella-Aureli/Block Club Chicago
Meagan Bilbo’s friends honored her life with a vigil at Oz Park in Lincoln Park Dec. 8, 2021. The 19-year-old was fatally shot in Jefferson Park Dec. 5.

Friends and family remembered the 19-year-old Portage Park resident as a courageous and confident person who loved dogs, biking in the city and challenging herself. At a vigil held in her honor last year, she was remembered as a free-spirited, loving friend who wasn’t afraid to go against the grain.

Meagan Bilbo and three others were shot in the alley of Computer Planet, 4804 N. Central Ave., officials said. The store, which detectives said was being rented out since October, has been shut down by the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.

Department spokeswoman Elisa Sledzinska said there have been no complaints since the December party.

At last month’s crime safety meeting, 16th District Captain Mike Barz said the district plans to identify any empty storefronts that could be used for illegal parties.

“The 16th District is going to have every single officer identify social clubs, illegal parties, vacant storefronts so this can’t happen again,” Barz said, referring to the shooting death of Bilbo. “We are asking for your help in identifying these properties. … If you see a vacant storefront, please report it so we can send out an officer immediately.”

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