Alderman vows party bus crackdown after 8 people wounded when gunmen open fire in Lincoln Park

Ald. Brian Hopkins wants to require party buses to halt operations at 10 p.m. The shooting at a gas station at North Avenue and LaSalle Street occurred just after midnight, and was the third mass shooting of the day.

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Crime scene tape.

Eight people were wounded in a drive-by July 21, 2021, in Lincoln Park.

Sun-Times file

A party bus shooting at a Lincoln Park gas station that wounded eight revelers prompted the local alderman to propose Thursday that all Chicago party buses be curbed at 10 p.m.

“I’m working on an ordinance right now,” Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) said Thursday afternoon. “They would have to stop driving people around at 10 o’clock.”

In the latest attack, three cars pulled up in the 1600 block of North LaSalle Drive shortly before midnight and gunmen began firing at the group of people from the party bus, Chicago police said.

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It was the third mass shooting of the day and occurred just hours after two attacks on the West Side wounded a total of 10 people, including a 14-year-old boy who died.

Police did not say if the victims were on or off the bus and released no other details of the shooting. No one was in custody and police released no description of the attackers.

Hopkins said the 10 p.m. curfew makes sense because “a lot of the trouble we’ve had on party buses has occurred around midnight. This incident was like five minutes to midnight. It just seems to be a recipe for disaster when you have 36 people, lots of alcohol, potentially some narcotics as well. And as the hours go by, the likelihood of trouble increases.”

Hopkins acknowledged the City Council has imposed countless crackdowns over the years aimed at preventing party bus rides from turning violent.

That includes requiring party buses that carry at least 15 people drinking on board or making multiple bar stops to install security cameras or hire more security personnel.

But, after the Wednesday night shooting, Hopkins argued that it’s time for yet another crackdown.

Hopkins argued that the earlier crackdowns made an impact — even during the Wednesday night shooting.

“There was a security guard present. Obviously, he wasn’t in a position to stop this incident from happening. But arguably, he prevented it from being worse than it was because both of the vehicles that pulled in during this attack — one of them actually fled without firing a shot and the other one that fired a number of shots did it very quickly,” Hopkins said.

“It turns out that the driver of the bus was also armed. He has a concealed-carry license. And he felt that part of his role was to provide security and prevent this sort of thing from happening.”

A 24-year-old man was shot in the arm and a 26-year-old woman was shot in the leg, police said. Both were taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital; the man was in fair condition and the woman was in serious condition.

A 23-year-old man struck in the groin also was taken to Northwestern in serious condition, police said. Two men, 42 and 52, both struck in the leg, were taken to Illinois Masonic Hospital in fair condition.

A 27-year-old man struck in the chest was later dropped off at Northwestern in critical condition, police said. A 29-year-old man struck in the arm went to Rush University Medical Center, then was transferred to Stroger Hospital in fair condition.

A 26-year-old woman shot in the hand drove to Jackson Park Hospital, where she was in good condition, police said.

Retiring Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Rosa Escareno said she’s not certain Chicago needs another party bus crackdown. She noted Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s sweeping pandemic relief package included enhanced requirements for party bus companies.

That includes, “doubling-down on the requirement of a security guard and requiring the itinerary to be made available on the vehicle at all times.”

“Over the years, Chicago has been very strong on the party bus regulation and requirements of those companies. … We believe that, thus far, we have ample, if not more regulation than most other cities,” Escareno said.

Escareno said when problems persist, the issue generally “is not your licensed industry. It’s really been your rogue, unlicensed actors. This is really more of a criminal issue.”

Escareno’s spokesperson later told the Sun-Times the party bus involved in the Lincoln Park shooting was “licensed and insured” by the city’s department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.

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