Thursday, September 4, 2008

Uptown Shooting Missing Victim Mystery

CHICAGO - (The Bench) - A key element in the investigation of last Friday's fatal shooting in Uptown is still missing: The third shooting victim seems to have slipped through the cracks. The police aren't saying anything. They either don't know that three (not two) people were shot in near N. Sheridan and W. Lawrence last Friday, or they are keeping it secret for reasons unknown. The Bench was on the scene minutes after the shooting (see my photo here). The manager of J.J. Peppers convenience store, in the strip mall adjacent to the shooting scene, told The Bench in no uncertain terms that there was a third victim, a man that ran into her store yelling, "They're shooting!" None of the local newspapers, radio or television stations got this right. They are all reporting two victims, not three. The News-Star, on the scene with The Bench, also missed the third victim. News-Star has an otherwise good report about last Friday's triple shooting in the 4800 block of N. Sheridan (near Lawrence) in its Sept. 4 edition. However... News-Star STILL, like all other local news media, has a key element of the story wrong. (So, by the way, do the Chicago Police.) News-Star wrote that there were two people shot last Friday. As stated, there were three. I am a contributor to the News-Star, so I have a certain affection for it. There - disclosure made. I will not let my affiliation with the News-Star affect my objective criticism of it. The error, which was in a "web extra" online report last Friday, is repeated this week in print. The report on the front page of News-Star states: A gorgeous, late summer afternoon was shattered by gunfire that left one teen dead and a 24-year-old man critically wounded in Uptown on Friday. One dead and one wounded equals two victims. However, The Bench reported last Friday that there were actually three victims. The Bench stands by that number today. The News-Star continues (emphasis added): When [police] arrived, one of the victims [Victim #1] was lying face down on the sidewalk at 4828 N. Sheridan Road with a bullet wound to the head. The second victim, [Victim #2] a 24-year-old man, ran to Weiss Plaza at the corner of Lawrence and Sheridan, where he collapsed in front of a fast-food restaurant. Okay, but what about that third victim? Well, here he comes, sort of: The store manager at J.J. Peppers Food and Liquors said she was working in her office last Friday afternoon when one of her employees came in and told her he had heard gunshots. Seconds later, a man she said was in his late teens or early 20s came running into the store, screaming, "They're shooting. They're shooting. Call the police," the store manager said. Remember: One dead, one down. Another guy ran into J.J. Peppers. What News-Star did not report, but what that same manager told The Bench, is that the guy who yelled "They're shooting" was Victim #3. According to the store manager, that man had a single gunshot wound to his left shoulder. The manager told The Bench that she called 911 and applied pressure to the shoulder wound to slow the bleeding. Victim #3 was taken away in an ambulance. News-Star spoke to the same store manager about 10 or 15 minutes after The Bench did. In fact, I told News-Star that she was willing to talk about the incident. The truly disturbing aspect of all of this is that the Chicago Police Department missed Victim #3 as well. They are still talking about two victims. It is mysterious how the CPD would not be aware of a 911 call for a gunshot wound about 40 yards from a major, fatal shooting and think, "Gee, these events just might be connected." They are connected, the police did miss it, they are still not connecting the all of the dots. This jeopardizes the investigation. What did Victim #3 see? What does he know? Why would the J.J. Peppers manager retract her story about the third victim after telling both The Bench and News-Star about it in great detail?