Wicker Park club owner says police were called twice to disperse unruly crowd — they never showed, and 5 people were later shot
‘We were told it is because the resources were being stretched too thin,’ Point owner Jun Lin says. ‘But it doesn’t change the fact that someone died.’
The bar staff had a bad feeling.
Milwaukee Avenue, always a busy strip, was clogged with cars and people and was getting noisier and more crowded by the hour.
Just before 3 a.m. Oct. 10, the staff at The Point called the police and asked for squad cars to clear the block in front of the Wicker Park club.
When no officers responded, the staff called again at 3:34 a.m., according to phone records provided by the club. Then, they shut down the bar.
“We called, and no one showed up,” owner Jun Lin told the Chicago Sun-Times.
About 10 minutes later, the shooting started.
Four men opened fire as people ran through traffic, ducked behind cars and limped down the street, according to police and witness accounts. One person was killed, and four were wounded.
It was another mass shooting in a year already far outpacing each of the past five years, according to a Sun-Times analysis.
And it’s one Lin and others say could have been prevented had the police stuck with a plan worked out with the neighborhood.
Following complaints from residents and business owners over the summer, the city instituted an overnight parking ban on weekend nights to discourage unruly crowds.
Lin said it’s an effective plan, but it isn’t always carried out.
“Some weekends, it was happening,” Lin said. “Some weekends, they weren’t. We were told it is because the resources were being stretched too thin. But it doesn’t change the fact that someone died.”
In those early morning hours that Sunday, surveillance video shows Milwaukee Avenue was packed with parked and idling cars.
Officers who would have been ticketing and helping to clear those cars had been pulled for another assignment, a carjacking not far away, according to Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st).
La Spata said thee’s a need for greater coordination among police, the Department of Streets and Sanitation and the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection “to really make sure that this is … a vibrant community with vibrant nightlife that is also safe and healthy.”
Police officials wouldn’t comment.
Fernandos Johnson Jr. was heading out of The Point, 1565 N. Milwaukee Ave., when the shooting started.
He’d just finished playing a show at nearby Subterranean club and went over to the late-night bar as he had done many times before. After the lights came on and workers began ushering people out, Johnson stayed behind, talking with a friend until security told them to leave.
He was nearing the front door when he heard four or five shots.
“I ducked behind the wall,” Johnson said. “You hear people screaming, running around the club … It was a wild couple of minutes.”
Surveillance video shows a guard guiding people back inside the building, where they ducked and hid or rushed out the back. One staff member is seen helping a wounded woman inside, as another works to apply a tourniquet to her leg.
“It was a war zone,” Lin said. “Everybody was shooting everybody.”
About three minutes after the first shots, the bar’s surveillance footage shows police cars arriving in front.
The Chicago Police Department later put out a written statement saying the shooting followed “an altercation inside the bar.”
Lin said the only “altercation” the police could be referring to took place a few minutes before the bar shut down, Lin said.
The video footage shows two men stepping close to each other as a woman steps between them. A crowd begins to form but dissipates about 30 seconds later. A security guard comes over, and later the two men are seen hugging and smiling.
Lin said his bar already was going to close before the exchange because of the large crowds outside. Minutes later, lights go on in the venue, and patrons begin to exit.
The club’s security cameras catch a man in a ski mask standing near a car outside and firing a gun, apparently shooting back at someone across the street.
According to the police say, four men were involved in the shootout.
The first shots were fired by Raymond R. Jones at a group of people outside the club, according to the police. Someone from the group returned fire, striking Jones, 32, in the chest as he fell between two parked cars.
Twenty seconds after the first shots, Teanius Sykes got in the car of his girlfriend, a security guard, and took her handgun from the glovebox, police say. Sykes was captured on surveillance video shooting into the crowd by The Point. Someone from the crowd again returned fire, prosecutors have said.
A woman walking nearby was shot in her shoulder as she ran for cover. One of two people who got out of a car when the shooting started was hit in the leg, according to prosecutors. Two others were wounded before police arrived.
Lin said his head of security performed CPR on Jones, but he died. The other four survived.
Nearly 300 people have been shot in mass shootings this year in Chicago. That’s more than all of last year and more than double 2019’s toll.
Lin said his staff scans ID cards, patting down male patrons and using metal-detector wands to check women. But allowing cars to park on the street grants people easy access to stashed guns.
“As a business owner, what more can I do?” Lin said. “Other than fold up and go away. But I have 40 employees I am responsible for ... I have my life savings in these businesses.”
Lin said the solution is simple: Tow the cars and station squad cars on the ends of the block during weekend overnight hours.
The weekend after the shooting, police and city agencies showed up to enforce the parking ban in the 1500 block of North Milwaukee Avenue and shut down an “illegal party,” according to La Spata.
Lin was pleased with the police presence but hopes the police will be more consistent with enforcement.
“We’ve had two meetings with the police so far,” he said. “We’re told that, at a minimum, they’ll be ticketing and towing the cars off the street.”