Skokie officials dissect two serious crimes
Updated: July 29, 2012 6:13AM
When Skokie Voice scheduled its community forum on public safety, no one could have imagined it would come on the heels of two serious crimes — one resulting in terrible tragedy and the other with the same potential even though no one was hurt.
On May 24, a driver at Main Street and St. Louis Avenue, while making a turn, hit another vehicle, lost control of her car and struck and killed an 8-year-old boy out for a bike ride on the sidewalk.
She allegedly smoked marijuana before the incident.
The driver was charged with one count of felony aggravated driving under the influence resulting in death and one count of misdemeanor driving under the influence of drugs. She was also cited for failure to yield at a stop intersection and failure to provide proof of valid insurance.
A few weeks later June 14, a 20-year-old Skokie man allegedly fired shots at a vehicle outside the Crafty Beaver store in downtown Skokie. No one was hurt, but the man was charged with four counts of felony aggravated discharge of a firearm.
The same man was charged with two counts of misdemeanor aggravated assault for an earlier unrelated incident May 30 when he allegedly threatened two people with a baseball bat after a traffic dispute.
“We’ve had two very serious and unusual crimes, and when you think about (them), it’s basically an injury,” Village Trustee Randy Roberts said at the community forum.
“It’s an injury to the individual victims but it’s also an injury to our community. And sometimes when you have an injury like that, it causes the perception of fear and anxiety in the community.”
Roberts said the incidents are being taken seriously, but it’s important to keep proper perspective.
“These two incidents do not equal a crime wave,” he said.
Both crimes were “solved,” Roberts said, and people are in custody likely to spend time behind bars.
The village took action following the crash, authorizing a safety study of the area and assembling a committee to make recommendations for improving safety. The village also will look at safety conditions around all schools over the summer.
Roberts told the victim’s father that Skokie is “rededicating itself” to traffic safety so his son will not have died in vain.
The fresher case of the fired gunshots in downtown Skokie and some of the reactions to it prompted Police Chief Tony Scarpelli to make a statement.
“In the electronic age, people start to post comments,” Scarpelli said. “Sometimes they’re on point and sometimes they get way off track.”
The shooter fired eight shots, three of them hitting vehicles, he said.
“We consider it a despicable, deplorable act that isn’t to be tolerated,” Scarpelli said.
Clarifying rumors, Scarpelli said the parties involved in the incident are not newcomers to Skokie. The shooter’s family has lived in Skokie since 1996, the victim’s family for at least 10 years.
Police said they have had a long history of contacts with the shooter.
Neither family is a section 8 voucher holder, neither family is African American, the chief said.
The incident was not related to the new downtown Yellow Line CTA station even though the shots were fired nearby.
“This basically involved a dispute over a domestic relationship,” Scarpelli said. “One’s girlfriend is the other’s former girlfriend. This was not a random crime. This suspect would have committed this act wherever the parties crossed paths whether it was Skokie, Niles, Park Ridge or Chicago.”
Roberts said the one element that ties them together is that they were caused by young people — a 23-year-old woman and 20-year-old man.
He stressed the importance of reaching young people and emphasized that the village is involved in proactive measures and programs for that purpose.