*(From the sanctuary city of Chicago and the Mexican street gangs) – Mass shooting at Brighton Park memorial claims lives of brother and sister

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By Jeremy Gorner and Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas

Adriana Williams and her brother Michael stopped at a makeshift memorial on Sunday afternoon for a friend gunned down hours earlier on a street in Chicago’s Brighton Park neighborhood.

On Monday, a new memorial went up — this one for the two Williams siblings after they were killed and eight others wounded when two gunmen armed with rifles stepped from an alley and opened fire at mourners at the friend’s memorial.

The group had been celebrating the life of 26-year-old Daniel Cordova, who was shot and killed about 13 hours earlier, when the shots rang out.

“They were just coming to pay their respects,” said Willie Glover Jr., an older brother of Adriana, 27, and Michael, 24. “You expect people to respect that.”

Chicago’s worst mass shooting in almost four years comes amid conflict by as many as four Mexican gangs battling over turf in Brighton Park and neighboring Back of the Yards and less than a week after two plainclothes Chicago police officers — mistaken for rival gang members — were shot and wounded. Of particular concern to police is that in recent months the gangs have increasingly been using military-style weapons, including in the shooting of the two officers.

According to a law enforcement source, Chicago police are looking into whether rival gangs are trying to take advantage of the department’s crackdown on the La Raza street gang because of its involvement in the officers’ shooting. Police believe a rival gang, the Almighty Saints, was responsible for both shootings Sunday, the source said. Both Cordova and Michael Williams were affiliated with the Satan Disciples, police said.

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Police are concerned about further bloodshed. In an alert broadcast Monday over police radio channels, officers were told to “use caution in Satan Disciple areas.” With the shooting of multiple gang members, “a heightened level of activity from Satan Disciples is expected,” the police alert warned.

The shootings led Ald. Raymond Lopez, whose 15th Ward covers Back of the Yards and Brighton Park, to pronounce Sunday that “no innocent lives were lost” in the afternoon shooting that killed the Williams siblings and wounded the eight others near 46th Place and Rockwell Street.

“If you are hanging out with people who are recruiting 12- and 13-year-olds to join gangs and sell drugs, then you are part of the problem in this community,” Lopez told a Tribune reporter. “We need to stop beating around the bush on this, and we need the people who live here to stand up and help us stop what’s going on.”

By Monday, police were providing the alderman a security detail after he had received death threats, according to the law enforcement source.

Lopez declined to comment on the report, telling the Tribune, “I was elected to defend my residents and will continue to do so.”

On Monday, the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, which offers after-school programs, violence prevention outreach and advocacy for immigration rights for the blue-collar, Latino neighborhood, sought to comfort students with the help of officials at Shields Elementary School and Shields Middle School, both located a few blocks from Sunday’s shootings.

“The kids are afraid,” said Patrick Brosnan, the council’s executive director. “They feel nervous to go outside. They are scared in their own neighborhoods.”

Just before 3 a.m. Sunday, with music blaring, Cordova posted a video to his Facebook page threatening the “opp” — short for opposition — and bragging about how he stays out on the street “day and night.” He taunted that he was sitting in a parked car alone, according to the video.

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About an hour and a half later, police found his body between two parked cars at 46th Place and Rockwell Street. He had been shot in the chest.

Word of Cordova’s shooting spread on Facebook, and Lisa Vargas, who roomed with Adriana Williams, said Adriana was “freaking out” over the death.

“She was just like, ‘Nah, it wasn’t him. It can’t be him,'” Vargas said. “And I said, ‘Yeah, it was him.'”

As friends gathered at the memorial near where Cordova had been shot, police warned them they could be the targets of more gang gunfire. It wasn’t long afterward that the gunmen appeared.

Michael Williams died at the scene, and Adriana died at Stroger Hospital, officials said.

According to a Tribune analysis of its shooting database, the killing of two and wounding of eight others, including two women, marked the single worst shooting incident in Chicago since September 2013, when 13 people, including a 3-year-old boy, were shot in Cornell Square Park near 51st and Wood streets in Back of the Yards by two gunmen, one armed with an AK-47-style rifle.

“It hits hard,” said Vargas, noting one of her daughters was really close to Adriana Williams. “I was sitting here telling my daughter, ‘You could have been right there with her.’ Because she goes with her everywhere. She was always with her.”

As she talked Monday, friends set up a makeshift memorial for the Williamses in front of the two-story brick home in Little Village where Adriana lived. That’s where their friends tied yellow smiley-faced balloons on a wrought-iron fence across the sidewalk from the home.

They passed around a black marker and took turns scrawling messages on the balloons. “We Love You” and “R.I.P. Adriana.” They lit religious candles near a small pot of roses.

Glover, the Williams’ brother and the oldest of six siblings, said that he had moved out of Chicago about 15 years ago and that he and his siblings grew apart the way family sometimes does when everyone is grown and spread out.

He knew his family members lived in a tough neighborhood where gang violence was prevalent. But he didn’t believe his siblings were in a gang, though he acknowledged, “I know they live around a lot of gangs.”

Still, Glover never expected that two of his siblings would be gunned down, especially at a makeshift memorial for another homicide victim.

“The (guy) that got killed is close friends with my brother and sister,” he said. “You know, it wasn’t about who they are. It was more like just targeting anybody that was out there to gather for him. They trying to pay their respects, and they get murdered. That’s crazy.”

“They was real good people. They was very loved people. A lot of people really loved them,” he said.

Glover said his sister was a small woman whose size belied her strength and huge personality. She left behind three kids, who have recently been in the custody of the state, he said. She was trying to get her kids back, he said.

His brother showed aptitude for math and reading and made good grades in school, said Glover, who said Michael had two kids of his own.

“Michael, he was just always a good kid. He liked to play basketball. He liked to dress in real nice clothes,” Glover said. “When he was younger, I never thought him to be the type to be around this type of environment. He was just trying to be a good father to his kids.”

Police said both shootings Sunday were carried out by suspects armed with rifles.

In February, the Tribune reported that four Hispanic gangs in Brighton Park and Back of the Yards on the South Side were increasingly using rifles. Police said this area was the only one in the city where rifles styled after AR-15s and AK-47s were regularly used, a menacing new development in the gang fights.

At the time, more than 30 shootings believed to have been tied to semi-automatic rifles occurred in the two neighborhoods over the previous nine months. At least 46 people were shot in those attacks, 13 fatally.

As of Monday evening, no one was reported in custody for the Sunday shootings, but Deputy Police Chief Kevin Ryan told reporters Sunday night that investigators “have a fairly good idea who we’re looking for, we have a fairly good idea of the conflict involved and right now we’re trying to saturate the area.”

Vargas, the friend of both Williamses, said she found out about their killings when someone posted a video from the crime scene on Facebook Live.

“She’s on the ground, and they’re screaming, ‘Help her! Help her!'” she recalled.

Vargas said the last time she saw Michael Williams, who worked in a cookie factory, was earlier Sunday when he was at a Cinco de Mayo parade along Cermak Road in Little Village.

Another friend, Roselee Lopez, spoke of Michael Williams’ sense of humor.

“He loved to joke around,” said Lopez, clutching a bouquet of roses, tears streaming down her face. “Whether you had a good or bad day, he always tried to make you smile.”

Lopez said she, too, learned about the shooting from a Facebook Live video. She hopped on a CTA bus to head to the shooting scene.

“I kept on saying, ‘No, it’s not him. It’s not him. It can’t be him,'” she said. “I was just with him in the parade.

“But when I went over there and they uncovered him, that’s when I really knew.”

Chicago Tribune’s Tony Briscoe, John Byrne and Rosemary Regina Sobol contributed.

*(From the Sanctuary city of Chicago and the Mexican street gangs) – CPD orders security for Southwest Side alderman after gang threat

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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.

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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.

*(FROM THE SANCTUARY CITY OF CHICAGO) – Prosecutors: Gunman fired 25 shots into van, wounding two cops last week

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By Nereida Moreno

A gunman fired 25 shots into a covert van carrying two plainclothes Chicago police officers from just a few feet away, showering them with shrapnel and wounding both last week, Cook County prosecutors revealed Monday.

The gunman opened fire from the front passenger seat of a minivan but quickly jumped to the back, opened the sliding side door of the minivan and continued firing his military-style semi-automatic rifle, prosecutors said.

The hail of bullets was captured on a Chicago police pod camera and surveillance video in the South Side’s Back of the Yards neighborhood shortly after 9 p.m. last Tuesday, prosecutors said in court as a judge ordered no-bond for the driver of a stolen gang van used in the shooting.

One officer, 25, sustained gunshot wounds to his left hip, his left upper arm and his right flank, while the second officer, 38, suffered lacerations and cuts to his upper back. Both were released from Stroger Hospital the day after the shooting.

Prosecutors said the suspects, both members of the La Raza street gang, thought they were shooting at rival gang members, not police officers.

Prosecutors said the driver, Angel Gomez, 18, confessed on video to detectives, admitting he drove the van used in the shooting. He was charged with two counts each of attempted murder and aggravated battery with a firearm.

Police are still looking for the gunman.

The two officers, both Deering District tactical officers, were investigating a gang shooting near Halsted Street and Archer Avenue earlier that Tuesday. They became concerned that gang-affiliated individuals in a Nissan Murano could attempt to retaliate for the shooting, so they began following the vehicle in their unmarked black conversion van, prosecutors said.

The occupants of the Nissan Murano as well as another gang vehicle — a red van — noticed the black van following them and believed them to be rival gang members, prosecutors said. The occupants of the red van alerted gang members in two other vehicles by phone that they were being followed by rivals, according to prosecutors.

At this point, as the Nissan Murano and red van turned off onto side streets, the two officers decided to end their surveillance and started to head back to the Deering District station, prosecutors said.

But by then the other vehicles were onto the van containing the officers. The officers, believing they were in danger, turned eastbound on 43rd Street, prosecutors said. It was then that a stolen Town and County minivan driven by Gomez pulled up beside the officers’ van on the driver’s side and the gunman in the front passenger seat opened fire from a few feet away, prosecutors said.

After firing several shots, the gunman jumped to the back, opened the sliding side door of the minivan to give himself a better angle and continued to fire his rifle, prosecutors said.

One of the bullets struck the gas tank area, draining fuel and causing the police van to slow as the hail of gunfire continued, prosecutors said.

The officers were able to return fire, striking the tires and the trunk of the minivan driven by Gomez, prosecutors said.

Despite the tires being shot out, Gomez was able to drive the minivan to 43rd and Ashland Avenue and flee on foot with the gunman, prosecutors said. A police K-9 unit later recovered the rifle stashed near railroad tracks in a small lot nearby.

Prosecutors said a witness positively identified Gomez as the driver of the minivan.

The officers were investigating a gang-related shooting that occurred earlier in the evening about 6:30 p.m. near 18th and Halsted streets in the Pilsen neighborhood, about 3 1/2 miles northeast of where the officers were shot, police said. In that earlier shooting, a 15-year-old boy was wounded in the left leg. Police said either that victim or people he was with at the time were affiliated with La Raza.

In February, the Tribune reported that gangs in Back of the Yards and Brighton Park were increasingly using rifles. Police said that was the only area of the city where rifles styled after AR-15s and AK-47s were regularly used, a menacing new development in the gang fights.

At the time, there had been more than 30 shootings believed to have been tied to semi-automatic rifles in the two neighborhoods over the previous nine months. At least 46 people were shot in those attacks, 13 fatally.

Police suspected the rifles were being passed around by members of four rival Mexican gangs in the area — La Raza, the Almighty Saints, Satan Disciples and Gangster Two-Six.

Before Tuesday, the last time a Chicago police officer was shot was Nov. 27 in the West Garfield Park neighborhood. That officer suffered a graze wound to the forehead while police exchanged gunfire with Richard Grimes. Officers fatally shot Grimes, 33, who police said had just shot his pregnant fiancee in the abdomen.

Sanctuary Cities Face Aid Cuts as DOJ Tightens Screws…

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By Charlie Savage

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration escalated its confrontation with so-called sanctuary cities that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities, threatening them anew Friday with the loss of grant money if they do not remove certain barriers.

The Justice Department sent letters to officials in New York City, Philadelphia, California and other places that were singled out last year by the agency’s inspector general for regulations that interfere with the ability of police or sheriffs to communicate with federal immigration authorities about the status of prisoners in their custody.

“Many of these jurisdictions are also crumbling under the weight of illegal immigration and violent crime,” the Justice Department said in a news release.

The agency cited the rising murder rate in Chicago and cast blame for gang murders in New York on what it labeled a “soft on crime” stance. It also complained that after the recent arrests of 11 members of the MS-13 Salvadoran street gang, the deputy police chief of Santa Cruz, Calif., had stressed that the raid was unrelated to immigration instead of “warning other MS-13 members that they would be next.”

President Trump ran on a platform of cracking down on illegal immigration and issued an executive order during his first week in office aimed at starting that process. Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned that recipients of federal law enforcement grants were required to comply with a 1996 law that bars the local authorities from forcing officials to withhold information from federal immigration authorities about people’s immigration status.

The recipients of the letters were warned that as a condition of receiving 2016 grants, they must certify by June 30 that they were in compliance with the law. That enforced a deadline on a policy first put in place under the Obama administration, which announced the policy last July but gave cities that were not in compliance time to adjust.

After Mr. Sessions’s remarks last month, several municipal leaders vowed defiance; Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City said that he would fight in court any attempt to strip funding from the city.

On Friday, Nisha Agarwal, the commissioner for the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs in New York, said the city was prepared to respond by the June 30 deadline. She declined to say what the city would tell the government.

Mr. de Blasio and other top city officials also batted back against the “soft on crime” label in the Justice Department’s statement.

“We did not become the safest city in America by being ‘soft on crime,’” Mr. de Blasio said, standing with the city’s police commissioner, James P. O’Neill, both stone-faced, in Police Headquarters. “This is an insult, this statement.”

He said it “denigrates” the Police Department and its officers, was “absurd on its face” and ignored a quarter-century of progress on crime. New York City is currently at or near historic lows in all areas of major crime, from murder to auto theft.

The Justice Department responded to Mr. de Blasio by doubling down on its comment, calling his administration’s policies “soft on crime” in a second statement.

The dollar amounts for the grants in question are relatively small compared with the overall budgets of the governments that received the letters. For example, according to the Justice Department, the City of New York received a $4.3 million grant in 2016.

Other places sent the letter included the State of California, which received a total of $10.4 million, divvied up among 128 cities and counties; Chicago and Cook County, where that city is, and which shared a $2.3 million grant; New Orleans, $265,832; Las Vegas’s Clark County, $11,537; Philadelphia, $1.7 million; Miami-Dade County, $481,347; and Milwaukee County, $937,932.

Each of the letters was signed by Alan R. Hanson, the acting director of the Office of Justice Programs, which administers the Byrne law enforcement grant program. Until Jan. 20, Mr. Hanson was a top aide to Senator Richard C. Shelby, Republican of Alabama; Mr. Sessions had been the other Alabama senator until he took the helm at the Justice Department.

“Failure to comply with this condition could result in the withholding of grant funds, suspension or termination of the grant, ineligibility for future O.J.P. grants or subgrants, or other action, as appropriate,” Mr. Hanson wrote.

Illegal Alien Charged for Alleged Rape, Murder of Sanctuary City Woman

By Ryan Saavedra

Investigators say that an illegal alien sexually assaulted the victim and strangled her to death.

Bulmaro Mejia-Maya, 29, was arrested in Jacksonville, Florida, on Wednesday and was charged with the first-degree murder of Tiffany Thrasher, 33. Other charges Mejia-Maya faces include home invasion and aggravated criminal sexual assault, according to CBS Chicago.

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) filed a detainer on Bulmaro Mejia-Maya after his arrest by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office on April 19, 2017,” ICE said in an email to Breitbart Texas.

Thrasher was found dead in her apartment by police after her friends requested a well-being check on her for missing Easter services.

Investigators say that Mejia-Maya lived in the same apartment complex as Thrasher although it was not clear if the two had met.

Authorities say they tied Mejia-Maya to the murder based on physical evidence discovered and on interviews in which Mejia-Maya made “incriminating statements.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has openly welcomed illegal aliens to his “sanctuary city.”

“We are still and always will be a welcoming city whether you’re an immigrant from Poland or Pakistan, Ireland or India, Mexico or Moldova where my grandfather came. If you believe in the America dream we welcome you to Chicago,” Emanuel said.

Emanuel has gone so far as to create a new ID program to ensure that illegal aliens get government services without exposing their identities to federal authorities.

“The new program was unveiled at a Chicago City Council meeting on Wednesday, and it protects illegal aliens from federal oversight by not collecting any copies of identification documents presented when illegals apply for the identification card,” Breitbart previously reported.