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Police step up patrols in Uptown after shooting

With some Uptown residents worrying crime is getting worse in their neighborhood, Ald. James Cappleman (46th) took to Twitter to announce an increase in police patrolling Clarendon Park, the scene of a gang shooting last weekend.

The "Police Commander will be stepping up more patrols around Clarendon Park Fieldhouse. Reviewing Police & Park plans to quell illegal activity," the alderman tweeted Monday morning. A spokeswoman for Cappleman said the local police district, the 19th District, also is coordinating with the city's Park District to increase patrols in the area of the North Side park.

About 9:30 p.m. Sunday, a man was shot in the shoulder in Clarendon Park, in the 4500 block of Clarendon Park—just south of Wilson near the lakefront, according to Chicago police. He was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in good condition, authorities said. Officials said the shooting was gang-related and no arrests have been made in the case.

Some residents who live near the park say this is just the latest shooting tied to gangs. There also have been fights and drug-dealing in the community just north of Lakeview and Buena Park and just South of Edgewater.

Sean Battle, 38, told RedEye he took video from the balcony of his apartment, overlooking Clarendon Park, on Sunday night and said there's footage of groups of people fighting in the aftermath the shooting. He later posted two videos of the chaos on YouTube.

Battle said he’s heard what he thinks are more gunshots in his neighborhood this year, compared to the nine-plus years he's lived in Uptown.

"It's scary," he said. "It's always been a slightly rough around the edges neighborhood, but for the most part it's pretty safe up until this last year. I really don't feel safe walking around at night anymore because you don't know who's looking for who and what's going on."

Battle said he is soon moving to Lincoln Square, a neighborhood that he thinks will be safer to raise his 2 year-old daughter.

"It's to the point now where I won't take her to Clarendon Park," he said. "That's insane, when we have a big beautiful park right across the street."

Katharine Boyda, president of the Clarendon Park Advisory Council, said she was returning to her home on Clifton Avenue around 10 p.m. Sunday night when she witnessed a swarm of people heading west from the park. She said some of the people were shouting obscenities at one another.

After hearing about the gang-related shooting a short time later, Boyda figured she was witnessing the aftermath.

"It was quite a shock to the system," she said. "I had to pretty much push my way through the crowd to get home. This is absolutely different from anything we've ever experienced before, and I've been here 13 years."

Boyda said she is hoping law enforcement in the neighborhood will find new tactics for addressing crime. Right now the standard advice from police is to call 911 to report problems, and follow up on any concerns at community meetings.

"We have to take a look and understand that the tactics and methods currently being used are not working," she said. "Is the violence escalating? Yes."

Police officials declined to comment on crime-fighting strategies in the area, and a spokeswoman for Cappleman did not respond to a request for an interview with him.

Jackie Keophet, 22, said she could hear what she thought were gunshots Sunday night from her apartment near the corner of Clarendon Avenue and Windsor Avenue.

"We thought maybe it was something else, because there were so many shots fired," she said. "We started hearing tons of screaming, and then later in the night we noticed all the police cars all over the block," she said.

This wasn't Keophet's first brush with neighborhood violence since moving to Uptown in November. Earlier this summer, she said, a bullet was shot through one of her apartment windows.

"I was really upset about it and wanted to cancel my lease," she said. "The park has the potential to be a great place, but there's too much going on and not enough people doing anything about it." | @rachelcromidas

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