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There's a snipers nest


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This past New Year's Eve was the proudest day in James Maurer's 37-year

career with the Chicago police.

He was standing at Division and Larrabee when the clock struck

midnight, and

he didn't hear a single celebratory gunshot coming from Cabrini-Green

on the

Near North Side.

His decision to flood the complex with about 300 officers paid off in a

peaceful night for residents both in the public housing complex and in


town houses and condos that have sprung up nearby.

Now, after seven months of relative calm, Maurer again is battling the

street gang members who have terrorized the neighborhood at the barrel

of a

gun for more than two decades.

An internal turf war involving the Gangster Disciples grabbed the


attention when firefighters and paramedics came under gunfire July 19


trying to rescue a shooting victim in the complex. None of them was


Over the next 11 days, nine people were wounded in gang-related


including Jacklynn Denise Rogers, a Continental Airlines flight


who suffered a bullet wound to the buttocks early Monday when stray


from the complex hit a shuttle bus that she was taking from a downtown


There have been two fatal shootings in the neighborhood in the past


but neither was connected to the gang war, Maurer said.

Maurer, who had increased patrols in the complex following the July 19

incident, ordered a search of several buildings Monday. At 624 W.


officers found a sniper's nest on the 14th floor. The room was strewn


about 100 spent bullet casings, and doors were propped near windows as

shields. The room would give a shooter a clear shot at four other

Cabrini-Green buildings and several parking lots, Maurer said.

On the 15th floor, officers found a .30-30 rifle and a .22-caliber


and they found an AK-47 assault rifle in another building, Maurer said.

Police will test the casings for fingerprints, he said.

Meanwhile, Maurer said he will keep heavy patrols at eight


buildings where most of the gunfire has been concentrated. Drug dealers


thought to rake in $60,000 a week in profits at some of the buildings,



"We will not turn this over to the gangs," Maurer said. "They ought to


up and leave."

Maurer showed up Wednesday at Wayman A.M.E. Church for a summit that

community leaders organized to appeal for peace. Ald. Walter Burnett


(27th), and representatives of the Chicago Public Schools, Near North

Development Corp. and Near North Ministry Alliance were there, too.

"We desire to re-establish a sense of calm and community in the midst

of the

recent, unfortunate attacks," read a statement by the summit's


"We ask the community's help in making this a reality. We are willing


make ourselves available in order to help bring an end to the violence


restore peace."

Among those calling for calm were residents from upscale neighborhoods


shop at the Dominick's grocery across the street from the complex. "I'm

terrified because of all the shootings," said Lisa O'Malley of Lincoln


"The possibility of being a victim, just coming to the grocery store,



Lina Hilko lives three to four blocks from Cabrini-Green but hates to

venture any closer. "I wouldn't choose to live in the new developments


to Cabrini-Green. I walk in the parks nearby, but I wouldn't walk to


Dominick's from my home," said Hilko, who keeps her house alarm system


all the time.

But Margaret Comer said she enjoys living in the shadow of


"It's diverse, it's quiet and it's accessible to downtown. They've left


alone, except one time when they stole aluminum umbrellas from the


The turf war started when high-ranking Gangster Disciple Ernest "Smoky"

Wilson was arrested June 18 on a felony charge of unlawful use of a


police said. He is suspected of controlling the drug trade in the


Wilson ordered a "street tax" on drug dealers in Cabrini-Green to bail


out of jail, but they rebelled, police said.

Then, on July 24, Josephy "Cosmo" Ross, 32, his second in command, was


to death near Cermak and California after visiting Wilson in


fuel on the fire, police said.

"This is the old guard vs. the young turks, in the same gang," Maurer


"I am glad this is not a war between gangs, though. Then we would have

different parts of the city embroiled in this."

Maurer said he is concentrating about keeping outsiders from loitering


Cabrini-Green. Most of the gang members doing business in the complex


from the neighborhood, he said.

Thomas McGann was one of the Chicago police officers stationed outside


buildings Wednesday.

"You have ID?" he asked a visitor.

"It's a hassle," the visitor said.

The man walked away because he was not on a police list of residents.

"If they're not on the list, they're not going in," McGann said.

Some residents were grateful for the extra police support.

"There was shooting last night," said Eureka Gordon, 11. "It's safe now

because the police are here."

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Hey, leave Cabrini alone. I am about to move there man. My cousin' Tyrone bought be a cast iron bath tub to sleep in, he says it will stop da bullets. And he told me all da ruze, like when you hear "Break yo self sucka!!!!" it's time to get into that tub.

You guys are mean... mean... mean... lol :gang:

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