By Frank Main and Jordan Owen
Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) was placed under guard Monday by the Chicago Police Department after a street gang made a “credible threat” against him, sources said.
Over the past week, Lopez has angrily voiced his opposition to the street gangs suspected of several high-profile shootings in his Southwest Side ward, including two officers who were wounded last week and 11 people shot — three fatally — on Sunday.
Lopez’s home and office are being watched by officers because of a threat attributed to the Satan Disciples, sources said. Members of the gang were the targets of Sunday’s shootings in the Brighton Park neighborhood, according to police.
Lopez declined to comment on the threat before speaking at a community rally with police officials and community organizers on Monday evening at the corner of 46th Place and Rockwell, where Sunday’s shooting happened.
“Nothing that people throw my direction can compare to what my residents face on a daily basis,” he said.
The rookie alderman has maintained a high profile since he was elected in 2015.
He went toe-to-toe with Mayor Rahm Emanuel in calling for every penny of unclaimed property-tax rebate money be used to fight crime, but later backed off of that demand.
On Sunday, he told reporters he was “thankful today that no innocent lives were lost” in the Brighton Park shootings, a slap in the face of the Satan Disciples whose members were killed.
Two people who identified themselves as relatives of the people shot dead on Sunday afternoon began shouting over Lopez as he spoke at the close of Monday’s rally, which drew more than 100 neighborhood residents.
“They’re not animals!” a woman yelled. “They were people. They mattered and you’re talking about them like s—!”
“That could’ve been my baby!” another woman yelled at her.
“That was my family! They mattered!” the first woman retorted before walking away from the rally.
Police said they suspect the Latin Saints street gang was responsible for Sunday’s mass shooting in an attempt to reclaim lost gang territory.
At about 5:15 p.m., masked gunmen armed with assault rifles opened fire at 46th Place and Rockwell, shooting 10 people and killing two of them, a man and a woman.
The victims had been gathered on the street at a makeshift memorial for a 26-year-old man who was killed earlier on Sunday just down the block.
Police knew the memorial could attract more gang violence and officers had driven past it shortly before the mass shooting, said one police source, calling it “brazen.”
The shootings involved assault rifles, police said.
Police are now watching for the Satan Disciples to retaliate for Sunday’s shootings. People lighted candles on Monday night in memorials along a row house near the shooting scene.
“This won’t ever end,” a 21-year-old man named Rigo said after the rally. “I had a memorial for my two brothers killed last month. Just a matter of time till the next one.”
Arturo Rodriguez, who has raised three sons with his wife in Brighton Park for 25 years, said he heard the gunfire from Sunday’s shooting.
“It’s really scary. I don’t even like my wife walking far down the block to her car now,” he said.
Concern over the gang conflicts in Lopez’s ward rose to a new level on May 2 when two plainclothes tactical officers were shot at 43rd and Ashland in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.
Earlier that day, a La Raza member was shot by rivals near 20th and Halsted while riding in a black Nissan, police say. After the victim was taken to the hospital, police let the men in the Nissan drive away. But tactical officers followed them in an unmarked van.
Police supervisors called off the surveillance, but the gang members in the Nissan apparently knew the van was tailing them. They alerted fellow gang members, who shot at the van with a .223-caliber high-powered rifle, authorities say.
One officer was struck in the back and another — the son of a deputy chief — was hit in the arm and hip, police said. The officers were treated at Stroger Hospital and released.
On Monday, Angel Gomez, 18, a reputed La Raza member, was ordered held without bail on charges of attempted murder and attempted battery in the officers’ shootings. Police said they think the gang members thought the officers were members of a rival gang — and not cops.
Sources said gangs in Back of the Yards and Brighton Park know La Raza will come under intense scrutiny from the Chicago Police Department for the rest of the year because of the shooting of the two officers. That’s expected to create a power vacuum in those neighborhoods and in other parts of the city, which La Raza’s rivals will try to exploit.
Police officers have been on high alert in Back of the Yards and Brighton Park in recent months because many of the gang shootings in those neighborhoods have involved assault rifles that are capable of piercing officers’ body armor.
In Back of the Yards, 35 people have been shot in 2017 — six of them this past weekend alone. In Brighton Park, 36 people have been shot this year, including the 11 shot on Sunday at 46th Place and Rockwell.
Despite all of that violence, shootings and killings were down in the Deering and Chicago Lawn police districts through the end of April, compared with the first four months of 2016. The Latin Saints, Latin Souls, Satan Disciples, La Raza, Almighty Saints and Latin Kings are among the gangs that have been driving the violence there.
Citywide, 1,093 people have been shot in 2017, according to Sun-Times records.