WICKER PARK — A man was shot at The Point on Milwaukee Avenue over the weekend, the second shooting to hit the late-night bar in about five months.
Now, the bar owner, the alderperson who represents the area and local police are scrambling to come up with a safety plan that will keep patrons — and neighbors — safe.
The shooting happened just before 5:10 a.m. Sunday, a few minutes after the bar had closed for the night, according to Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st) and Jun Lin, owner of The Point.
Police said a 29-year-old man was inside The Point, 1565 N. Milwaukee Ave., when he “heard shots outside and felt pain.” According to the Sun-Times, which obtained an internal police report, the gunman opened fire from across the street, firing at least 10 shots into the bar. Officers found the 29-year-old bleeding on the floor of the club, the Sun-Times reported.
The victim was taken to Stroger Hospital with a gunshot wound to his right eye, police said. He is listed in serious condition.
La Spata and Lin said the victim wasn’t the intended target of the shooting. He works at a nearby bar and went to The Point for a nightcap, they said.
“It’s really frustrating and disappointing to see this young man — someone who was completely an unintended victim in all of this” … get shot, La Spata said.
This is the second time in five months that the Wicker Park bar has been the site of a shooting. One person was killed and four others were wounded Oct. 10 in a shooting outside of the bar.
Police said that incident stemmed from a bar fight inside The Point. After the altercation, workers decided to close for the night, which resulted in people congregating in the street, and then, a bout of gunfire, police said.
Lin has, however, denied that an altercation inside led to the bar’s closing. He told Block Club in October that he called 911several times to get help with rowdiness on the street before the shooting occurred.
Still, La Spata said he’s concerned over the similarities between the two shootings.
“I cannot say that The Point was to blame for this, but to have two shootings at least marginally in connection with this business is really troubling for Wicker Park residents and in general,” the alderperson said.
Lin said he has “no idea” what prompted the shooting on Sunday, which was captured on the bar’s surveillance cameras.
In reviewing the footage, Lin said the shooter was in a group of people who had been at the bar earlier in the night. Everyone in the group showed their ID and drank in the bar as normal, Lin said.
Surveillance footage shows the group left the bar later on in an uneventful fashion, Lin said. But a few minutes after leaving, one person in the group walked back and sprayed gunfire inside the bar before running off, he said.
Lin said he’s been working closely with local police and La Spata to curb violence in and around the bar since the October shooting. He said he’s beefed up security and his staff has been diligently checking IDs at the door. A police squad car was stationed outside of the bar for hours that night, he said.
The bar owner said he can’t be blamed for what has become a “Chicago violence problem.” The city recorded nearly 800 homicides last year, the most in 25 years.
“What could I have done differently? It’s somebody who came in with a proper ID, bought a drink and left, and then put bullets into my business,” Lin said.
But on the heels of the second shooting, a growing number of neighbors are calling on local leaders to work collaboratively to prevent more shootings from occurring.
La Spata said he aims to meet with Lin and local police soon to bolster their violence prevention plan. One measure that could help, the alderperson said, is cutting back The Point’s hours of operation. Currently, the bar is allowed to stay open until 4 a.m. most of the week because Lin holds a Late Hour Liquor License. On Sundays, the bar is permitted to stay open until 5 a.m.
City Council recently approved a permanent overnight parking ban designed to limit public partying and crime on Wicker Park’s Milwaukee Avenue, a plan crafted by La Spata in response to violence and rowdiness in the area. The ban was in effect when the shooting occurred on Sunday, La Spata said.
“They do have a plan of operation. There are steps they’ve already taken in terms of scanning IDs at the door … but there is clearly something happening that is not working, so I’m sure there are adjustments that need to be made,” La Spata said.
Lin is strongly opposed to slashing the bar’s hours. The only way the bar is able to pay artists and musicians to perform there on a regular basis is because they make added revenue during late-night hours, he said. An earlier closing time won’t prevent people from randomly shooting into his business, he argued, it might just lead to shootings happening earlier.
“We’re doing everything we can in terms of being a business. We were simply victimized twice with shootings. That’s violence in Chicago. I don’t think the answer is to my close business, when we haven’t done anything wrong,” he said.
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