The 606 trail, a hallmark of the city’s recent improvements to pedestrian transportation, had avoided joining the inglorious category of places in Chicago where people had been been shot since it opened in 2015.
That changed early Tuesday, just shy of its four-year birthday, when a man was fatally shot and two others were wounded on the trail in Logan Square after being asked about their gang affiliation.
“The victims indicated they were not in a gang and they were shot,” Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.
The trio — a 22-year-old man, a 20-year-old man and a 19-year-old woman — were walking about 12:10 a.m. on the trail in the 1800 block of North Monticello Avenue when three unknown males approached them, police said.
The males asked for the trio’s gang affiliation before showing weapons and firing at them, police said. No arrests had been made as of Tuesday afternoon. The shooting is not being investigated as a targeted incident, police said.
Alejandro Aguado, 22, was shot in the chest and back and pronounced dead at Norwegian Hospital, police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office said.
The 20-year-old was taken to Stroger Hospital with a gunshot wound to the lower backside and his condition was stabilized, police said. The woman suffered a gunshot wound to the abdomen and was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in critical condition. Both victims are from the southeast side, police said.
“This was a pretty heinous attack against individuals who have no involvement in criminal gangs from what we can tell,” Guglielmi said.
Aguado, who grew up in Portage, Indiana, but lived in Calumet City, worked two jobs to support his 2-year-old daughter, Esmerelda, according to his aunt, Reyna Aguado.
Aguado had visited his grandmother Tuesday on the South Side and worked a shift as a cook at a South Side Burger King before going out for the evening with friends, she said. He also delivered pizzas, she said.
“He was a good kid, not in a gang or anything,” she said. “He told them he wasn’t in a gang and they shot him anyways.”
“They said he covered the other two people he was with,” Reyna Aguado said, recalling what police told family members.
“We’re shocked. We can’t believe it,” she said.
Ald. Roberto Maldonado, whose 26th Ward includes the section of trail where the shooting occurred, said the shooting should not keep people from using the trail.
“Unfortunately, obviously this does create a sense of insecurity, but I think it’s an isolated incident and not a pattern,” he said, noting that police planned to beef up patrols on and near the path.
Maldonado said police were looking into whether the shooters might be part of a Southeast Side gang that traveled to the area due to a dispute with a gang from the Northwest Side.
Maldonado also lamented a lack of security cameras on the western half of the trail, which runs 2.7 miles between Bucktown to the east and Logan Square to the West.
“Now maybe the current administration will finally install the security cameras the last one said it would,” Maldonado said.
Footage from the security camera of a private residence near the trail captured the direction the gunmen fled but didn’t clearly show their faces, Guglielmi said.
“The safety and security of our park patrons is our top priority. That being said, this is the first incident of its kind to occur along the 606 since it officially opened in 2015,” emailed Irene Tostado, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Park District, which manages the trail, said in an email.
She directed questions about trail cameras to the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications, which did not return a request for comment Tuesday.
The shooting happened more than an hour after the end of trail “operating hours,” which span 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
“The trail may still be used as a thoroughfare during off hours, but convening or congregating along the trail is not permitted during this time,” Tostado said.
Cesar Serrano, 51, who lives several blocks from where the shooting occurred and uses the trail regularly, said he feels like the western half of the trail is neglected.
“I see the police presence to the east, but on this side I really don’t see much of it,” said Serrano, adding that he now plans to stay off the trail after dark.
A group of six police officers walked the trail Tuesday afternoon.
“We’re out here all the time,” Sgt. Thomas Cotter said.
Cotter admitted there were “not as many” cameras on the western portion of the trail as there were on the eastern half.
Cotter said the trail is a “gem,” noting it’s regular use and pristine and lush condition.
But he also noted the trail’s 12 access points make it difficult to monitor.
“There’s so many ways in and out it’s hard to patrol,” he said.
The trail officially opened June 7, 2015.
And though there hadn’t been a shooting on the trail until Tuesday, the 606 has not been immune to crime.
Five armed robberies in less than a month in the fall of 2016 on the 606 Trail caused police to issue a public warning.
Police issued another warning in July of 2017 about robbers knocking people off their bikes and demanding their belongings.
And shootings have previously made headlines for their proximity to the trail, but none ever occurred on the trail itself.
Building the trail, which lies atop an embankment that for decades accommodated freight train traffic before becoming defunct and overgrown with weeds, was one of former Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s signature achievements.