CHICAGO (CBS) -- Police late Thursday were searching for the person who shot and killed a man outside the Ogilvie Transportation Center in the West Loop early in the morning.
As CBS 2's Tara Molina reported, officers were called to Clinton and Lake streets just before 1 a.m. Thursday. They found a 59-year-old man with who had been shot in the chest.
He was taken to Stroger Hospital of Cook County, where he died.
Aldermen who represent the area and parts nearby said there has been an increase in crime where the shooting happened. They said they have been sounding the alarm for months, but nothing has been done.
We took a closer look.
Ald. Bill Conway (34th) said the shooting was the result of a drug deal gone bad - something police are not sharing right now. He said he had heard about an increase in crime from those who walk through this area, and live and work nearby, for months.
Once such person is Louise Perrin.
"We have an issue right now with open-air drug markets happening under the three viaducts here," she said.
Conway said the once-peaceful homeless encampment nearby has become a magnet for drug deals and illegal activity. He said he has heard about the rise in crime and seen it himself.
"Theft tragic fatal shooting was predictable, inevitable, and likely avoidable," Conway said.
He said he asked Mayor Brandon Johnson for help at the site in early October, and an aide to the mayor offered to address public safety there in exchange for votes on the mayor's policy agenda.
Conway said he reported proposal that to the Office of the Inspector General.
"I declined that offer, because it is wildly inappropriate and unethical to trade basic city safety services in exchange for votes," said Conway.
The Mayor's office did not address Conway's claims in the statement they sent us Thursday, only saying they are engaged in operations to address criminal activity, and there are protocols to follow with encampments like the one at Clinton and Lake streets. The full statement was as follows:
"The Chicago Police Department (CPD) has been actively and consistently engaged in operations in this area of the 34th Ward to address criminal activity and is always working to strengthen community safety throughout the city. The City of Chicago is committed to the security of all residents, including individuals experiencing homelessness who deserve the same measure of dignity and respect as everyone else in our city.
"The City adheres to established protocols when cleaning up areas beneath viaducts, taking into consideration the complex nature of these encampments which requires a compassionate City response to individuals in need of medical care, mental health services or treatment for substance use. Before any movement or cleaning of encampments, the City must ensure that these individuals are safe and connected with the social services resources they need.
"The City, through the Department of Family and Support Services and Mayor's Office of Community Safety, will continue to work with CPD and external partners in leading the way in both public safety and addressing underlying conditions affecting our unhoused, providing services and public safety intervention as needed."
The aldermen said the protocols the Mayor's office cited for encampments have been followed to the letter.
"I have a paper trail about a mile high on this very specific issue requesting help - as far back as Mayor Lightfoot," Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd).
"There is rapid rehousing available. Now, people have not taken the option for rapid rehousing for many months," Conway said. "However, if you don't have the overt drug dealing, people would be far more encouraged to accept rapid rehousing -- as well as accept treatment."
Reilly said he hopes the latest tragic development will prompt the Mayor's office to take action.
"It is our hope that after this attention, perhaps the Mayor's office will be spurred to action, and finally clean this up," he said. "It's totally unacceptable."
We looked closer – running the numbers, and found that indeed there is an increase in crime in the area of the West Loop where the shooting happened.
We examined the trends by starting at the intersections of Lake and Clinton streets and Lake and Canal streets and fanning out a block in each direction from the two intersections.
Thefts there are at the highest we've seen since 2013 – with 27 reported this year, 13 last year, and four the year before.
Most of the thefts occurred on the street, or at convenience stores, restaurants, and Chicago Transit Authority platforms.
Two assaults and an aggravated battery have also been reported in the area this year.
"I'm afraid for my safety," said Perrin.
Ald. Conway's office's full statement on the shooting, and on Conway's claims that an aide of Mayor Johnson's suggested a quid pro quo for public safety improvements in the area, is below:
Late last night, a man was fatally shot near the corner of Lake and Clinton Streets downtown, immediately adjacent to a dangerous area under the viaducts and a CTA Green Line stop, Ogilvie Transportation Center, and Union Station. The incident is currently under investigation by the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and follows a string of violent crime in the area which was once a peaceful encampment but has become a magnet for violent crime and drugs. This past Friday, CPD arrested a man with an illegal loaded gun and $60,000 worth of heroin and crack cocaine in the 500 block of West Lake St.. In recent weeks, there have been two other shootings, multiple armed robberies, and numerous overdoses.
These downtown viaducts have been the subject of a recent dispute between Alderman Conway and the Mayor's Office. When Conway sought support for public safety in this area from Mayor Johnson in early October, his top aide inappropriately offered to address the issue in exchange for Conway's votes on two progressive pillars of the Mayor's policy agenda. Conway referred the matter to the Inspector General. In mid-November, 1,500 residents sent a petition to the Mayor's Office, joining area Aldermen in begging the City to address rising crime.
"Based on the clear trajectory of violent crime in the area, this tragic fatal shooting was inevitable and likely avoidable," lamented 34th Ward Alderman Bill Conway.
"It shouldn't have come to this, but it was eminently foreseeable that someone was going to get killed. For months, I've been relentlessly trying to get the Mayor's Office to see that this site was no longer a peaceful encampment but rather a magnet for violent crime and drugs. Any number of recent events, including last Friday's major arrest, should have been sufficient to warrant their response. It is unfortunate that it has come to this, but I hope it finally results in action.
"I want to thank the Chicago Police Department and other City agencies for their ongoing work and partnership with my office. I also want to assure my community that as Alderman and a father who walks his young daughters through these viaducts each day, I will continue to do everything possible to address this dangerous situation. Everyone has the right to live in a safe community and deserves to have their concerns addressed by the Mayor's Office without condition."
On Friday, just hours after CPD arrested someone with an illegal loaded gun and $60,000 of heroin and crack cocaine under the viaducts, the Mayor's Office responded to area residents who had repeatedly begged the City to address crime with a stock letter restating their misrepresentation that this area was merely a peaceful encampment - noting that, "homelessness is not illegal" - rather than recognizing it has turned into a magnet for violent crime and drugs. The unfortunate response also disregarded the fact that for some time now, the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) hasn't been able to get anyone to accept their offer for rapid rehousing.
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