WICKER PARK — A man was shot dead at The Point on Milwaukee Avenue over the weekend, the second shooting to hit the late-night bar in about five months.
Now the bar’s owner, the alderman who represents the area and the local police are scrambling to come up with a security plan that will keep patrons – and neighbors – safe.
The shooting happened just before 5:10 a.m. Sunday, minutes after the bar closed for the night, according to Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st) and Jun Lin, owner of The Point.
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Police say a 29-year-old man was inside The Point, 1565 N. Milwaukee Ave., when he “heard gunshots outside and felt pain.” According to the Sun-Times, which obtained an internal police report, the shooter opened fire from across the street, firing at least 10 shots into the bar. Officers found the 29-year-old bleeding on the club floor, the Sun-Times reported.
The victim was taken to Stroger Hospital with a gunshot wound to his right eye, police said. He is listed in serious condition.
La Spata and Lin said the victim was not the intended target of the shooting. He works at a nearby bar and went to The Point for a nightcap, they said.
“It’s really frustrating and disappointing to see this young man – someone who was completely an unintended victim in all of this” … getting shot, La Spata said.
This is the second time in five months that the Wicker Park bar has been the scene of a shooting. One person was killed and four others were injured on October 10 in a shooting outside the bar.
Police said the incident stemmed from a bar fight inside The Point. After the altercation, the workers decided to shut down for the night, which led to people gathering in the street and then gunfire, police said.
Lin, however, denied that an altercation inside led to the bar closing. He told the Block Club in October that he had called 911 several times for help with a commotion on the street before the shooting.
Still, La Spata said he was concerned about the similarities between the two shootings.
“I can’t say The Point was to blame for this, but to have two shootings at least marginally related to this business is truly troubling to residents of Wicker Park and in general,” the alderman said.
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Lin said he had “no idea” what prompted Sunday’s shooting, which was caught on the bar’s surveillance cameras.
Reviewing the footage, Lin said the shooter was part of a group of people who were at the bar earlier that night. All of the group members showed their IDs and drank at the bar as usual, Lin said.
Surveillance footage shows the group later left the bar without incident, Lin said. But minutes after he left, one person from the group returned and threw gunfire inside the bar before fleeing, he said.
Lin said he has been working closely with local police and La Spata to address violence in and around the bar since the October shooting. He said he had tightened security and his staff were diligently checking IDs at the gate. A police car was parked outside the bar for hours that night, he said.
The bar owner said he couldn’t be blamed for what has become a “problem of violence in Chicago”. The city recorded nearly 800 homicides last year, the most in 25 years.
“What could I have done differently?” This is someone who walked in with a valid ID, bought a drink and left, then put bullets in my business,” Lin said.
But in the aftermath of the second shooting, a growing number of neighbors are calling on local leaders to work together to prevent more shootings from happening.
La Spata said he intended to meet with Lin and local police soon to reinforce their violence prevention plan. One measure that could help, the alderman said, is to reduce The Point’s opening hours. Currently, the bar is allowed to stay open until 4 a.m. most of the week because Lin holds a late liquor license. On Sundays the bar is allowed to stay open until 5am
The City Council recently approved a permanent overnight parking ban designed to limit public parties and crime on Wicker Park’s Milwaukee Avenue, a plan developed by La Spata in response to violence and commotion in the area. The ban was in effect when the shooting happened on Sunday, La Spata said.
“They have an operation plan. There are steps they have already taken in terms of scanning IDs at the door…but clearly something is going on that isn’t working so I’m sure there are adjustments to be made” , said La Spata.
Lin is strongly against reducing the bar’s opening hours. The only way the bar is able to pay artists and musicians to perform there regularly is if they generate extra revenue during late hours, he said. An earlier closing time won’t stop people from shooting randomly at his business, he argued, it might just lead to earlier shootings.
“We do everything we can to be a company. We were simply victims of two gunshots. It’s violence in Chicago. I don’t think the answer is in my close affairs, as we haven’t done anything wrong,” he said.
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