Wentworth Gardens has become a ‘war zone,’ needs new security: alderman

Ald. Pat Dowell wants the CHA to replace the security firm, saying it hasn’t done enough to keep residents safe.

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Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) speaks during a press conference at the Parkway Ballroom in the Bronzeville neighborhood, Thursday morning, Feb. 18, 2021, where elected officials called for the replacement of local Postal Service leadership over mail delays and other service issues.

Chicago Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) wants the Chicago Housing Authority to replace the security firm at Wentworth Gardens.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

A South Side alderman says the Wentworth Gardens development has become a “war zone,” and she wants the security firm in charge to be replaced immediately.

“People should not have to live in fear like that,” Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) said Friday, during an online news conference.

Dowell’s demand comes a day after two men were shot, one fatally, at the Chicago Housing Authority development, which is just south of Guaranteed Rate Field.

The victims were in front of a residence about 2:15 p.m. in the 3900 block of South Princeton Avenue when a vehicle pulled up and someone inside opened gunfire, police said.

Deandre Abrams, 26, was struck in the face and taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, according to police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

The other man, 35, was shot in a leg and taken to the same hospital in good condition, police said.

Dowell said the shooting was the fourth homicide at Wentworth Gardens this year. In the same time span, Dowell said, residents have made 449 calls to 911, with reports of “shots fired.”

“The residents are living in a war zone; that is unacceptable. We do not live in a war zone. ... Enough is enough,” Dowell said.

She said AGB Innovative Security Systems has failed the residents of Wentworth Gardens.

“We needed AGB to be far more active than they were, to break up illegal gatherings on the property, to address the illegally parked cars, … to stop people from selling parking spaces to people who are attending the White Sox games,” Dowell said, noting that AGB’s contract runs through November 2021.

“We need action now — today,” she said.

A representative from AGB could not be reached for comment.

Karen Vaughan, a spokeswoman for CHA, said the agency is “working on the procurement process now for when the contract expires.”

“Thursday’s shooting is a tragedy, and CHA stands with residents in the Wentworth Gardens community as it recovers from this violence,” Vaughan said in a statement. “CHA is cooperating fully with the Chicago Police Department in its investigation of this incident. CHA is working with our partners in law enforcement and the community to ensure the safety of all our residents.”

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