Top cop addresses shooting, fighting at North Avenue Beach

Chicago Superintendent of Police David Brown said at a news conference Wednesday morning that a 19-year-old was seriously injured after multiple shots fired at a gathering on North Avenue Beach on Tuesday night. One person was taken into custody after a large gathering of youths.

Brown said that around 9:50 p.m., officers heard people shouting as two women fought on the beach. Moments later, officers saw a flash and heard shots fired.

“It’s not illegal to come to the beach if you’re a young person. It’s never going to happen. But at the same time, if you break the law, regardless of your age, we’re going to hold you accountable ,” Brown said. “So what we have done is, obviously, added several layers of security measures, including bag checking, officer presence, very aggressive patrolling, very active policing around beaches.”

Brown said the challenge for law enforcement is that beaches are “porous” and people can beach around checkpoints. Two gunmen were also arrested on the beach the day before the shooting took place.

The officers chased the two youths who fled from the spot. One of those men threw a fanny pack, which officers recovered, and officers found a Glock handgun with an extended magazine. Officials said the man who threw the fanny pack managed to evade arrest.

The other one who was running was caught and charges were pending against him. Brown said the 19-year-old who was shot was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Hospital in critical condition.

Lincoln Park Eld. Michelle Smith said in a tweet Wednesday morning that North Avenue Beach “must be safe for all.”

“We will not tolerate guns on the beach,” she wrote. “Police should be allowed to use metal detectors or wands to control the situation.”

Around 4 p.m. Tuesday, small groups of youth began arriving at the beach, believed to have been promoted by a notice posted on social media, Brown said.

“People including the youth were having a good time at the beach. Initially at 4 p.m. there was a lot of peace, there were families on the beach and the volleyball court was full,” Brown said.

Officers had put up checkpoints on the beach and were checking people’s bags. After 5 p.m., officers recovered a 9mm handgun from a fanny pack during a check of the bag.

Brown said 20-year-old Brian Wade was arrested and charged with unlawful use of a weapon. According to a police spokesman, he did not have the identity card of the firearms owner.

Brown said the beach remained peaceful until the shooting that injured the 19-year-old began.

Brown said that soon after the shooting, officers began clearing the beach and groups of youths spread through the neighborhood. At 9:50 p.m., a fight broke out between a crowd of beachgoers on North Avenue and Wells Street in the Old Town neighborhood. Several officers who tried to control the crowd suffered non-fatal injuries.

Police said that four people were arrested during the encounter. A 15-year-old boy was charged with one misdemeanor of reckless conduct and given a traffic citation for obstructing traffic by a non-motorist. A 16-year-old girl was charged with one misdemeanor of reckless conduct and a traffic citation for obstructing traffic.

At the news conference, Brown also discussed a shooting Tuesday at the Red Line stop on the South Side. At about 7:50 a.m. on the Red Line, in the 200 block of West 47 Street in the Bronzeville neighborhood, one man shot another before fleeing the station platform and evading arrest. The shooting was captured on video.

Brown said the man who was shot was taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center in critical condition after receiving multiple shots.

Kevin Ryan, Chicago Transit Authority’s vice president of security, said most attacks on CTAs are targeted and not random. There are 33,000 cameras to serve “as a silent witness” to help with the police investigation. The video of Tuesday’s shooting was given to the CPD within 90 minutes.

pfry@chicagotribune.com

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