In a move that Sneed first reported was pending, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich just named retired FBI agent Phil Andrew to head the Catholic Archdiocesan Anti-Violence Initiative he created more than a year ago.
The selection of the highly respected FBI agent is the culmination of a blue-ribbon archdiocesan committee of advisers summoned by Cupich last March to help stem the violence on Chicago’s South and West sides.
Andrew, a big child-safety advocate who once campaigned for gun control but had to give up political causes when he became a federal agent, once stated: “The proper way to memorialize a tragedy,” he said, “is to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”
Stunningly, Andrew, 50, brings an interesting perspective to the job: a negotiator’s role that began with a school shooting tragedy in Winnetka.
On May 20, 1988, Andrew, then a 20-year-old college student, helped end the North Shore rampage of a woman named Laurie Dann, who had opened fire on children at the Hubbard Woods School in Winnetka, killing an 8-year-old named Nick Corwin and injuring five other children.
On that day, Andrew and his mother were in their kitchen in Winnetka when Dann entered holding two guns, claiming she had been raped, and took them as hostages.
Andrew reverted to negotiator mode; and when Dann laid down one of her guns, it was reported he removed its clip in a gesture to invite her trust.
But when police arrived, she shot Andrew in the chest, and then killed herself — but not before Andrew succeeded in getting Dann to release his parents as hostages.
It was the culmination of a rampage in which Dann had set fire to a house, attempted to firebomb Ravinia Elementary School in Highland Park, and then “delivered poisoned juice and snacks to several acquaintances” before using the Winnetka school children as target practice, according to news reports.
Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson and the cardinal, who have been holding regular meetings since last March on quelling the violence in Chicago, met Wednesday at the cardinal’s office to discuss the city’s gun violence issue.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said, “[Superintendent] Johnson is not Catholic, but he does value Cardinal Cupich as a mentor and he reaffirmed his interest in how he and the Catholic church can reduce violence in the city.”
• A history note: Sneed exclusively reported last year that Cupich, who has likened the city’s gun violence to the Great Chicago Fire, put together a fire brigade just before Easter.
• To wit: Cupich ordered an inventory on all 84 archdiocesan programs dealing with strengthening families to streamline their effectiveness in dealing with violence; summoned a blue-ribbon committee of advisers to deal with stemming violence; and hoped to integrate their work with other agencies.
• The team: It’s comprised of Chicago’s Catholic university heads; Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s former Chief of Staff Eileen Mitchell; Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke; Father David Jones, pastor of St. Benedict The African East Catholic Church in the violence-scarred East Englewood neighborhood; Father Scott Donahue of Mercy Home For Boys & Girls; the Rev. Michael Pfleger of Saint Sabina Church; and Msgr. Michael Boland from Catholic Charities.
Loose lips . . .
Conor Kennedy, 23, who was in town recently stumping for his uncle, Dem gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy, managed to duck questions of his past romantic liaison with singer Taylor Swift.
• But the tall, lanky Conor took no time joining the chorus of Kennedy supporters singing along with his cousin, Ted Kennedy Jr., who had jumped upon a bar stool at the Irish Rose pub in Rockford to sing what he described as his favorite song: “My Wild Irish Rose.”
Sneedlings . . .
Today’s birthdays: Shakira, 41; Ina Garten, 70; and Gerard Pique, 31.