PORTAGE PARK — Northwest Side police officers plan to increase patrols district-wide ahead of the holidays and in response to last week’s shooting near Vera Lounge.
At a Monday night safety meeting, 16th District police captain Mike Barz said the district plans to have more officers stationed near the Portage Park and Belmont Central bar strip and lounge at 3235 N. Central Ave.
More cops will patrol near bars and clubs district-wide during the holidays, especially on New Year’s Eve, he said.
The 16th District covers most of Portage Park, Edison Park, Norwood Park, Dunning, Jefferson Park and the O’Hare area.
Last week, police shut down Vera Lounge indefinitely after three people were killed and a fourth critically wounded in a mass shooting nearby.
Supt. David Brown issued a summary closure, which stops all business at the lounge until further notice.
Summary closure enables police and city officials to close establishments they say pose a repeated threat to public safety.
The lounge, which serves Latin cuisine and hosts Latin music nights, opened in October 2021.
There are two active business licenses for Vera Lounge: a food and dining license issued in September 2021, and a liquor license issued at the beginning of this year, city records show.
The shooting, which was captured on video, occurred down the block from Vera Lounge but stemmed from a fight that began inside while the owner’s niece was celebrating her birthday, officials said.
Owner Ricky Vera, 50, was shot in his head and body and pronounced dead at the scene, police said. Family friend Mario Pozuelos, 26, and Mercedes Tavares, 24, Vera’s niece, were shot multiple times and died after being taken to area hospitals.
Mariah Vera, 25, was shot in her head and remains hospitalized. She underwent surgery over the weekend, according to her family.
Police charged Samuel Parsons-Salas, 32, with three counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder and one count of kidnapping. Cook County prosecutors said Parsons-Salas shot the victims multiple times in a “cold execution” style, critically wounding one woman as she tended to her dying father.
Parsons-Salas was denied bail at a court hearing last week.
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