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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