CPD warns officers of gang retaliation after man shot to death by police in Pilsen
The alert, issued Wednesday by Near West District Cmdr. Gabriella Shemash, states “there may be a possible retaliation towards CPD due to the recent shooting towards the police and by the police involving La Raza.”
Chicago police officers have been warned gang members in the Pilsen area may be targeting cops for retaliation after a man was shot to death by police earlier this week.
An officer safety alert, issued Wednesday by Near West District Cmdr. Gabriella Shemash, states “there may be a possible retaliation towards CPD due to the recent shooting towards the police and by the police involving La Raza.” A copy of the memo was obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.
According to Shemash’s alert, several high-ranking members of La Raza had a conference call this week in which they said “something had to be done” about the fatal shooting of Miguel Vega.
Vega, a 26-year-old father of two boys, was shot and killed by a CPD officer Monday night in the 1300 block of West 19th Street.
About 10:45 p.m., officers were called to the block for a report of a suspicious person. Once there, officers saw five people standing on the sidewalk. As the cops were getting out their vehicle, someone started shooting at them, striking their squad car.
The officers returned fire, shooting Vega once in the head. He was taken to Stroger Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
Two people were taken into custody but were later released, police said. A pistol was recovered at the scene.
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, the agency that investigates uses of force by CPD officers, has said bodycam footage of the shooting will be released within the next eight weeks, keeping with agency policy.
Vega’s family has pushed back on the CPD’s version of events, saying, “Neighbors and people who witnessed the crime first hand are coming forward and have contradicting versions as to what really happened.”
“My brother may not have been an angel, you know, how everyone expects someone to be,” Vega’s brother, Erik Vega, said during a vigil Wednesday. “Everyone messes up in life, but sometimes you’ve got to turn things around and that’s what my brother was trying to do.”
Besides warning of possible retaliatory shootings, Shemash’s alert makes clear that police officials believe Miguel Vega was one of at least two men who fired at police. The alert goes on to name three other men who were standing on the sidewalk with him when the gunfire began, though “it is unclear who the other shooter was at the time of the incident.”
The Sun-Times is not naming the three other men as they have not been charged in connection to Monday’s shooting. Court records show two of the three were charged with several counts of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon in 2019. The Cook County state’s attorney’s office, however, dropped those charges against both men in January and July, respectively.
Court records show Vega had never faced any gun-related crimes.
La Raza —“The Race” in Spanish — originated in Pilsen in the 1970s and still claims the area bounded by 16th Street, Cermak Road and Racine and Ashland avenues as territory. The gang also operates in the Back of the Yards and Brighton Park neighborhoods a few miles south.
Miguel Vega’s Facebook profile features several posts in which he celebrates La Raza and taunts rival gangs.
The shooting of Vega happened about 12 hours after CPD Supt. David Brown said 51 officers have been shot at so far in 2020, with 10 of those wounded by gunfire.
A day earlier, two officers were shot after being ambushed by a man who allegedly hid in the trunk of his carduring a West Side traffic stop.
In a statement, the CPD said it “takes allthreats against officer safety seriously, and we will take all necessary measures to safeguard our officers.”
John Catanzara, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, the union that represents rank-and-file officers, could not be reached for comment.