Distro Music Hall, a newly opened music venue on the Berwyn side of Roosevelt Road, saw gun violence within its walls late Saturday night and then chaos in the surrounding Oak Park residential neighborhood as frightened patrons scattered to the sound of the gunshots.
Two patrons were wounded, non-life-threatening. Police from Berwyn, Oak Park and Forest Park responded. Witnesses were detained. When the official police statement out of Berwyn reads, “The scene was chaotic with large groups of people exiting, yelling and running in all directions,” you get a sense of the panic loosed.
That panic and upset spread into Oak Park where immediate neighbors are frustrated and angry. Rightly so. There was an impromptu gathering of neighbors just north of Roosevelt on Sunday afternoon. More organized action and demands will follow. Neighbors want meetings with the club’s owners, and with Berwyn and Oak Park police leaders.
There would be lots to talk about in a public meeting with Oak Park and Berwyn police officials as this is now the second Berwyn nightspot that has spilled gunfire and danger across Roosevelt Road. The Journal has been reporting for years, and as recently as this month, on chronic issues at Mike’s Place on Roosevelt near Highland. Neighbors there feel unheard by Oak Park elected officials and police.
We are a nation and a community awash in cheap guns. There is no simple solution. But at our block-by-block level, there are fair expectations of safety and of action. Bar closing times – the violence at Distro happened at 2 a.m. – bolstered private security, an enforced ban on guns in an establishment with loud music and hard liquor, stepped up local police presence are all fair responses.
Step one, though, is for police chiefs in Oak Park and Berwyn to sit in a room with their angry constituents and explain their next steps.