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Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Avondale

California Clipper Employees, Patrons Held Up At Gunpoint In ‘Traumatizing’ Robbery

Rite Liquors in nearby Wicker Park was robbed at gunpoint 30 minutes earlier, also by a pair of men, but police haven't confirmed the two crimes are linked.

The California Clipper at 1002 N. California Ave. was closed Aug. 31, 2023 following an armed robbery that occurred at the bar hours earlier. Owners notified customers with signs affixed to the bar.
Mina Bloom/Block Club Chicago
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HUMBOLDT PARK — Beloved tavern The California Clipper is temporarily closed after employees and patrons were held up at gunpoint by armed robbers during a DJ night early Thursday.

Rite Liquors, a liquor store/bar in nearby Wicker Park, was robbed by a pair of armed men about 30 minutes earlier but police haven’t confirmed the two crimes, first reported by CWB Chicago, are linked.

No injuries were reported in either incident, according to police.

The Clipper at 1002 N. California Ave. was robbed around 1:45 a.m. Thursday, according to police and a witness.

Police said two men carrying guns demanded patrons and employees give up their belongings. All nine victims, ranging in age from 24 to 53, complied, and the robbers fled the scene, police said.

Attempts to reach the owners of the Clipper were unsuccessful late Thursday. In signs affixed to the bar’s windows, ownership said the bar was closed Thursday, but offered no details.

The bar was hosting a DJ night at the time of the robbery, according to the bar’s Instagram.

One person who was at the Clipper during the robbery called the crime “traumatizing” but declined to comment further, saying he’s still processing what happened.

Credit: Mina Bloom/Block Club Chicago
One of the closure signs up at The California Clipper Aug. 31, 2023.

Rite Liquors, a slashie — half liquor store, half bar — at 1649 W. Division St. was hit about 30 minutes earlier, according to police and a victim.

Around 1:15 a.m., two armed men demanded property from people in the bar/liquor store and ordered everyone to get on the floor, police said.

There were about five customers and a few employees in the establishment at the time of the robbery, according to a victim and longtime Rite Liquors worker who asked to remain anonymous for safety reasons.

It was a chaotic scene, with the robbers “running around trying to get money” as frightened patrons and employees remained in place, the worker said.

With a gun pointed at him, the worker recalled telling one of the robbers, “Relax dude, I’m going to give you the money,” before handing over all of the money in the cash register, about $2,000.

The worker said the robbers also stole his backpack, which contained some money, papers and medication.

Credit: Mina Bloom/Block Club Chicago
Armed robbers hit Rite Liquors at 1649 W. Division St. early Thursday.

In his 25 years of working at Rite Liquors, the worker said it’s the first time he’s been a victim of an armed robbery.

“Fifteen years ago, I felt safer than I do now. I don’t feel they have repercussions anymore. It’s just young kids running around wild,” the worker said, adding that the attackers appeared to be no older than 25.

Armed robberies are on the rise on the Northwest Side.

Robberies in the Shakespeare (14th) Police District, which covers parts of Wicker Park, Bucktown, Logan Square and Humboldt Park, were up 60 percent in July compared to July 2022, according to police data.

Last month, the Logan Square area saw 19 attacks in two days.

The armed robbery at the Clipper is also the second violent crime to hit the Humboldt Park bar in recent months.

Owen & Engine employee Marshall Russell was shot to death outside the Clipper July 16.

The 32-year-old was leaving the bar around 2:30 a.m. when a group tried to rob him. That turned into a physical fight and a person in the group firing shots at Russell, police said.

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