Watch CBS News

Police Outline Plan To Keep University Of Chicago Safe And Informed In Wake Of Murder Of Recent Graduate Dennis Shaoxiong Zheng, Fears About Violence

CHICAGO (CBS) -- There were calls for action Wednesday night on the campus of the University of Chicago, one week after the high-profile broad-daylight murder of a former student.

As CBS 2's Jermont Terry reported, Chicago Police and school leaders tried to reassure students they will be safe. This came a day after students pushed for changes during a protest.

Chicago Police and University of Chicago Police will be working more jointly moving forward. A safety plan discussed Wednesday night entails live cameras from a new operations center soon set to open, and keeping campus police and students in the loop about crime in the area – as students have been demanding.

A week ago Tuesday, Dennis Shaoxiong Zheng, 24, was shot and killed during a robbery at 54th Place and Ellis Avenue.

Alton Spann, 18, has been charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery, and two counts of unlawful use of a weapon. Police said that it was all over a cellphone that was later sold for $100.

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown was summoned to the University of Chicago Wednesday night. His task was to explain to students, parents, and U of C leaders the plan to keep them safe on and off campus.

The murder of Zheng – a recent recipient of a master's degree in statistics from the U of C – has left those on campus outraged and uneasy. Despite police arresting Spann in the deadly robbery, questions still loom as to whether students are targets.

"Technology was a significant aspect of solving this case," Brown said. "If we hadn't had (license plate cameras) in the area and across Chicago, we wouldn't have solved this case. if we hadn't had POD cameras on the campus of U of C, we wouldn't have solved this case. If we didn't have a witness come forward with the license plate, we wouldn't have solved this case."

And now, more technology – including POD cameras – are coming, to give real-time monitoring around the Hyde Park campus and neighborhood. But it is not just equipment.

"A more aggressive solution is to have officers permanently assigned officers - both walking and patrolling in cars," Brown said.

Brown said 26 additional officers are coming. He insisted they will not pull officers from districts, and will instead use a roving citywide team which deals with trouble spots.

And if you don't attend the U of C, but drive in the area, Brown said there will be increased traffic patrols - and those who commit traffic violations will be stopped.

"In and around the University of Chicago, you're likely to get stopped – because it's going to make us all safer," he said.

Brown said criminals drive recklessly and ignore the rules of the road. Police said Spann was spotted in a stolen car before and after the deadly robbery.

Brown emphasized that he meant police will stop people who have committed traffic violations – not stop people for no reason.

"We're not going to stop people who haven't violated traffic laws," he said.

The goal, Brown said, is to interact with traffic violators in hopes of deterring serious crimes.

With Zheng being the third U of C student who has been the victim of a homicide this year, University of Chicago President Paul Alivisatos drove home a message of safety.

"We want to send message as clearly as we possibly can that they will be safe here doing their work," Alivisatos said.

A memorial service for Zheng will be held Thursday on campus at 3 p.m.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.