The shooting on Roosevelt Road at Cuyler Avenue put renewed focus on Mike’s Place, a bar in Berwyn on the doorstep of Oak Park. The shooting, which occurred just after midnight on Memorial Day, a holiday federally designated to mourn fallen U.S. soldiers, stemmed from an altercation that occurred before the involved parties hopped into their vehicles, firearms at the ready.
In the aftermath, the Berwyn Police Department and the Oak Park Police Department are putting heads together to prevent further instances of gunfire at Mike’s Place, already a sore spot for neighbors for its loud music and its patrons’ parking habits.
“We’re just trying to collaborate so we can eliminate any other incidents between the two police departments,” said Oak Park Interim Police Chief Shatonya Johnson.
Oak Park police leadership and that of the Berwyn Police Department plan to meet to discuss crime mitigation efforts, such as increased police presence at the time Mike’s Place closes for the night — 1 a.m. or midnight, depending on the day.
While Berwyn Police Chief Michael Cimaglia did not respond to Wednesday Journal’s request for an interview, Johnson stated that the meeting will be held soon but the date has not yet been finalized. The meeting will not be held publicly.
“It’s going to be just department heads because we already work together,” she said. “We just want to make sure we’re on the same page.”
The Memorial Day shooting left one 34-year-old man with two gunshot wounds to his leg. The shots were fired from an unknown person in a silver vehicle as the victim and his companion were leaving Mike’s Place. The companion, Jeremy Riley, a Chicago resident and registered gun owner with a concealed-carry license, returned fire. Riley continued to shoot at the silver vehicle while he chased it down in his own automobile, then took the victim to the hospital after giving up the chase. Riley has since been arrested and charged with reckless discharge of a firearm. Oak Park police are still investigating the initial shooting that wounded Riley’s companion.
Adam Mikos, an Oak Park resident who lives near Mike’s Place, heard the verbal quarrel and resulting gunfire from his bedroom.
“It was hot out, so the window was open, and I could hear the argument start, and the screaming continue, then gunfire,” he recounted.
To Mikos, it sounded like automatic fire, as there was no pause between shots. He said he heard about 30 shots. The Oak Park Police Department has not released any information about the type of firearms used.
“My son was asleep like 30 feet from where the guns went off,” Mikos said.
This is the first incident of gunfire in Oak Park to originate from Mike’s Place, according to Johnson. And hopefully the last.
“We haven’t had a bunch of violent incidents over there,” she said. “And obviously, we don’t want any. One is more than enough.”
Wednesday Journal obtained police incident and call reports from the Berwyn Police Department and the Oak Park Police Department regarding Mike’s Place and its surrounding vicinity. Complaints made to both police departments about Mike’s Place primarily center on noise disturbances and illegal parking by patrons, with occasional calls to break up bar brawls.
From the Oak Park side, parking violations reign as the main offense because bargoers regularly park their vehicles illegally on South Cuyler Avenue and South Highland Avenue. It’s not always just a few cars either. Mikos believes about 90 percent of Mike’s Place patrons park on those two streets. On May 30, 2021 an Oak Park patrol officer issued 18 parking violations at 10:30 p.m. in the 1100 block of South Cuyler Avenue. A whopping 23 parking tickets were issued to cars in the 1100 block of South Highland Avenue at 11:16 p.m., on Oct. 23, 2021.
Greater enforcement of parking violations is one of the potential crime prevention tactics that will be discussed between the two police departments, according to Johnson. As Mike’s Place is in Berwyn, the bar itself is out of the Oak Park Police Department’s jurisdiction, meaning Oak Park officers can only respond to incidents that spill over into Oak Park, which are typically parking-related.
However, many of those who live on those Oak Park blocks fear issuing more citations will not eradicate the problem entirely. Mikos said his neighbors have been warning the police for “years” of the potential for violent incidents to occur.
He said his neighborhood has previously petitioned the village of Oak Park for stricter parking restrictions to curb the nuisances presented by Mike’s Place bargoers in Oak Park. The resulting changes, he said, were minute and ineffective.
“Parking regulations are useless because they don’t enforce them that often and when they do, people don’t give a [expletive] because it’s 40 bucks and they’re not going to get towed,” Mikos said.
The interim chief understands that people are angry and afraid, which is why, she said, the Oak Park Police Department is working with outside agencies to address the issues. The department has patrol officers stationed on the affected blocks to ensure the safety of residents, according to Johnson.
Mikos understands the limitations of police departments and legislation. He does believe, however, that something needs to be done to prevent further instances of gunplay and violent crime.
“You can’t outlaw guns, but you can create a situation where those guns aren’t coming into neighborhoods to go to a bar that’s not even in Oak Park,” he said.