Oak Park police say a series of shootings in and around the Austin neighborhood July 23 that left four men dead and three others wounded warrant ongoing vigilance but should not spark undue concern.
The spike in West Side violence echoed a similar period last September that saw numerous people shot in the Austin neighborhood-including the wounding of two Oak Park and River Forest High School students attending a party there-and the execution murder of a gang member on Division Street in Oak Park.
Around 2 p.m., July 23, Chicago police found Everett Tate, 30, in a parked car in an alley behind 6008 W. North Ave. He had been shot in the head and was pronounced dead three hours later. Another man, found next to the car suffering from a gunshot wound to the leg, was taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital in serious condition.
Sources outside the Chicago Police Department say the shootings occurred after the two men drove to the site to conduct a drug deal with a third man. Chicago police spokesperson Laura Kubiak on Thursday confirmed the shooting stemmed from a narcotics transaction.
Oak Park Police Commander Keenan Williams said Oak Park officers responded to the scene, but saw Chicago police and fire units present. Oak Park officers left shortly after canvassing the area directly across the street on the Oak Park side.
Around 11 p.m., Michael Guyton, 27, of the 1000 block of North Lawndale Avenue, was found dead of multiple gunshots on the 4900 block of West Hubbard Street. Media accounts say Guyton was reportedly shot after an argument over a defaulted car payment, not drugs. However, Ald. Ed Smith (28th) said drugs sales and related violence on streets such as the Hubbard Street block-which is about three blocks from his ward headquarters-are a chronic problem.
“They sell drugs there all the time,” Smith said. “They sell drugs like they’re selling ice cream.”
An hour later, three men sitting in a car on the 800 block of North Lorel Avenue were shot by someone among a passing group of young men. Gregory Jones, 23, was later pronounced dead at Stroger Hospital. Two other men present in the car, both 19, were treated for gunshot wounds to their backs.
Shortly before 1 a.m., a Bellwood man, David Montgomery, 23, was found dead of multiple gunshot wounds in a car on the 700 block of North Central Avenue. Montgomery, of the 1100 block of 31st St. in Bellwood, was paroled from prison last December after serving one year of a four-year sentence for drug possession.
One local police source said Chicago police had recently conducted a sweep of the area and arrested a number of known gang leaders. “That always leaves a vacuum,” the source said. “And people trying to fill that vacuum have to prove themselves.”
Last September, tensions between two Chicago street gangs led to a series of shootings that left three people dead and at least three wounded-including two OPRF High School students-over a 10-day period.
Around 3 a.m., Sept. 12, known gang member Clarence Fambro was shot in the back on Division near Harvey Avenue. At the time of the Fambro killing, Police Chief Rick Tanksley said Oak Park police were working closely with Austin’s 15th District and Area 5 Division officers regarding gang and narcotics issues.
Oak Park Commander Clemet Harbour added that while the shootings across the Austin border are of concern, they are taking no extraordinary measures.
“We’re always monitoring [Chicago police] channels and patrolling the [Oak Park/Chicago] borders,” he said. “There’s always the chance something’s going to jump off there.”