Rogers Park shooting tied to Evanston: Alderman

Ald. Joe Moore (49th) says a fatal shooting in Rogers Park may have stemmed from an Evanston gang fight. (Nancy Stone)

A fatal shooting in Rogers Park over Labor Day weekend was likely caused by tension between Evanston gangs, according to a Chicago alderman.

About 8:45 p.m. Sunday two men, both 29, were shot in a gangway in the 7400 block of North Ridge Boulevard - blocks from the Evanston border, Chicago police said. 

Paul Land, who lived in a building near the shooting, died from a gunshot wound to the abdomen and leg, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office. The second man, who was shot in the right leg, was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, police said. His condition was not available. The victims were at an outdoor barbecue when the gunfire erupted, authorities said.

The slaying was one of two separate shootings in the neighborhood on Sunday, but Ald. Joe Moore (49th) says police don't believe they're related. He also said the Ridge Boulevard shooting may have stemmed from a dispute between rival Evanston gangs.

In a message on his aldermanic website, Moore said the person who hosted the barbecue had just moved to Rogers Park from Evanston and is a suspected gang member.

Cmdr. Jay Parrott, a spokesman for the Evanston Police Department, said in a statement that he could not confirm whether the shooting was the result of an Evanston gang dispute, but that some “preliminary information” suggests it could be. He also said the department, which is investigating the reported shooting, did not have information identifying Land as a gang member.

No arrests have been made in the case.

Earlier Sunday, about 5:15 p.m., two people were injured in a shooting in the 1300 block of West Morse Avenue, according to authorities. A 29-year-old man and a 28-year-old woman were taken to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston; the woman was treated for a bullet wound to her chest and released from the hospital while the man was treated for a bullet graze wound to his head, authorities said.

Moore said police have not identified any suspects or motive for the shooting, but the man and woman were not likely the intended targets.

Despite the violence, Moore is urging community members to have “hope.”

“The gun violence we have experienced in our neighborhood is completely unacceptable,” his statement said.“But despite the recent violence, it's important to keep in mind we are still in a better place than we were 10 years ago, and a much better place than 20 years ago.”

Moore compared today's numbers to statistics from the 1990s, when the Rogers Park Police District saw an average of 18 homicides a year. In contrast, the first half of this decade has seen an average number of 7.5 homicides a year, he wrote, with 2013 hitting a near-record low of six homicides and 25 shootings.

“I share these statistics only to demonstrate that we have cause for hope, that we have made considerable progress over the past 20 years and that the recent violent trend is by no means irreversible,” he wrote.

In the message on his website, Moore wrote that gang crimes unit and narcotics task force officers would be on the streets to protect against possible gang retaliations in the future.

Rogers Park Police District Commander Thomas Waldera "is focusing on strategic deployment of those forces to head off possible future violence based on intelligence the police have received,” Moore wrote. “The Commander also said he would consider adding a foot patrol officer on Morse Avenue during the weekends to supplement the work of the foot officers who work the day and evening shifts during the week days. He already added a foot patrol officer to Devon Avenue.”

Moore said he would attend a prayer vigil at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago monastery, also in the 7400 block of North Ridge, not far from where Land was shot.

In his message to constituents, Moore urged Rogers Park community members to report even minor criminal activities they witness to police officers, especially in and around residential buildings. The location of the Ridge Boulevard shooting has just started to become a “problem building,” or a site for illegal activities, he wrote.

Moore said police officials would use the city's Drug and Gang House Enforcement Ordinance to target apartment buildings that might harbor gang activities and reduce crime there by holding property owners accountable. Moore pointed to one building, in the 1300 block of West Morse Avenue, which “for years was a source of much of the gang and drug activity on Morse,” but has since been rehabilitated by new owners.