Chicago man killed in 'gang assassination' in River Forest

Gunman fires into SUV stopped at North and Harlem on Saturday

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

A 23-year-old Chicago man named Steven Ward, who police say is a documented gang member, was shot dead Saturday night while the SUV he was driving was stopped at a red light at the intersection of North and Harlem avenues in River Forest, according to police.

The gunman also shot a 35-year-old Chicago woman, who was also in the SUV. Her injuries were non-life threatening, police stated in a press release.

River Forest Deputy Police Chief Jim O'Shea said in a telephone interview that the shooting was likely a "targeted gang assassination."

River Forest police report that "a preliminary analysis of the event points to a targeted gang-style assassination," but they are not ruling out alternative theories.

Police were called out to 7201 W. North Ave. at 10:41 p.m. on Dec. 2, in response to possibly nine shots being fired in front of the Shell gas station on the south side of North Avenue.

Witnesses, according to police, said a man wearing a hoodie pulled up in a silver Buick sedan or similar type of vehicle behind the victim's SUV.

The gunman exited the sedan, approached the SUV and fired several shots at and into the vehicle. Police described a chaotic scene following the shooting, with the SUV rolling into the North/Harlem intersection, passengers fleeing the SUV and pedestrians and other motorists seeking cover. Police said the gunman in the sedan fled eastbound on North Avenue.

O'Shea tells Wednesday Journal that at least two juveniles also were in the SUV at the time of the shooting, but neither were injured.

He said the West Suburban Major Crimes Taskforce, which is leading the investigation, has interviewed several individuals who witnessed the shooting and video surveillance was available from the Shell gas station and the red-light camera at the North and Harlem intersection.

"[The major crimes taskforce is] looking at all aspects of the crime, even from the conspiracy side that this was an approved hit with money exchanged," O'Shea said, adding, "There are a lot of moving parts right now."

River Forest police were assisted by officers from Oak Park, Forest Park, Elmwood Park, Melrose Park and Chicago.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

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Tommy McCoy  

Posted: December 5th, 2017 9:54 PM

Ada Johnson Tikkanen, thank you for taking the energy to respond this time. If you knew about the blue lights and the field of view you wouldn't be that interested. It is not a deterrent to criminals. As for more lighting, you can bring in search lights to light up neighborhoods and still have crime. For your own self protection, you may want to invest some money into FLIR imaging. It will give you the best results to keep you safe and let others not need to cover their windows at night from the search lights. Once again, thank you for taking the energy to reply

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: December 5th, 2017 9:24 PM

McCoy - I wasn't even referring to our cops. They're on it. Love our law enforcement. I'm talking better lighting and blue light cameras as a start. Your misconstrued gobbledigook is becoming wearisome.

Greg Lewis  

Posted: December 5th, 2017 4:29 PM

I agree with Ramona. How are we to protect ourselves if we can't get a description of the alleged carjackers, or their "waiting cars"? This is serious business, and the Journal leaves us in the dark!

Rob Ruffulo  

Posted: December 5th, 2017 1:56 PM

Build a wall on Harlem Ave.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: December 5th, 2017 11:59 AM

Jacek Lazarczyk, maybe I didn't read what Ada Johnson Tikkanen was implying. Here is a partial quote she wrote. "when the eff bomb are we going to do something sensible to deter crime and gang activity in this village?" Now maybe not to you, although to me, she is saying the Village is not doing things that are keeping her safe. That is false because the Police, are always on patrol and they can not be expected to be at the location of a crime each time it occurs. The only real story is how long did it take Police to respond to the car jacking on Lombard avenue. If it was less than 5 minutes which does not mean less than 4 minutes than there must be a reason for it. Either the victim estimated the time completely wrong or there was not enough Police Officer's available at time with other serious crime's taking place. If crime has increased that much in Oak Park, which I don't think it has, then some tax payers may want to increase the tax they pay and hire more Police Officer's.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: December 5th, 2017 11:30 AM

Thanks Jacek - I found it wasn't worth the energy to respond.

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: December 5th, 2017 10:37 AM

Since there is no description of the shooter, am I just to assume he is black? Why is the journal so apprehensive about giving descriptions of murderers, car jackers and muggers?

Jacek Lazarczyk  

Posted: December 5th, 2017 10:32 AM

Tommy, you so misread Ada's original post and now you are arguing with what you think you read instead of what she actually wrote. Totally not productive.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: December 5th, 2017 6:11 AM

So, now Ada is a "nasty person," because her opinions don't properly align with yours, Tommy? Guess everyone who challenges you is either inebriated or nasty, huh?.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: December 4th, 2017 10:18 PM

Ada Johnson Tikkanen, you seem like a nasty person. You create your own Willy Wonka scenario of Oak Park, and say you need to think twice about letting your kid go to Mickey's over some crime. Crime happens so get use to it and get out of your Willy Wonka world otherwise you may teach your kid to stay in the factory where it is safest place to be and just make candy for all of the rest of the World

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: December 4th, 2017 10:04 PM

Mr. McCoy - please save the patronizing for a shrinking violet. I'm talking deterrence - sometimes that's infrastructure.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: December 4th, 2017 7:54 PM

Ada Johnson Tikkanen, doing Police work is not like you watch in the movies or television. If you have not been trained which most citizen's are not, they walk around without any regard to who is around them. I had a from visit Oak Park, who works at The Hague. Of all the places he has traveled in the World, he gets attacked on about the 300 block of Forest Avenue. He went to the tourist center and then took a walk around. He did not pay any attention and after being attacked he said two woman in the area came to help him and he praised the Oak Park Police for how professional they were. You can not expect to have your own Police Officer, so you need to teach yourself and anyone you want to send to Mickey's how to learn the way a thief moves. Go to the meeting and better educate yourself and take your family with you

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: December 4th, 2017 7:31 PM

A few years back when we lived near Chicago and Ridgeland, I attended some type of public "where do we see the east Chicago business district in the future" forums. The only thing I can recollect is a bunch of architects and developers suggesting benches, planters and an archway - demarking entrance to the great village of Oak Park. I remember feeling "wow - it's like making it through the gates of Willy Wonka's factory where there is no poverty, or crime or drugs....only gummy bear trees and lickable wallpaper. I just shook my head at the response when the subject of blue light cameras throughout the area was broached. Apparently they aren't good for attracting potential residents and business owners. Okay screw the archway, when the eff bomb are we going to do something sensible to deter crime and gang activity in this village? There have been muggings, armed robberies, and burglaries within a block of my house in the past month. Now I can add gang-killings to the list of why I need to think twice about letting my kid walk the two blocks to Mickey's with his buddies. Times like these, I just want to go find that chocolate river where all the ineffectual Village powers-that-be are floating around on marshmallows. Then I'd like to shove them up that tube with Augustus Gloop.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: December 4th, 2017 1:19 PM

I wish the best to our Police Force in apprehending the shooter or shooters. The criminal activity is no longer just limited to certain parts of Chicago, and suburbs do not need this spilling over to which is considered a very nice area. Places like gas stations gives a stopping place for the criminals who travel through and that is where a lot of car jackings and shootings occur.

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