Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday the police will start treating funerals of reputed gang members as “gang events.” That means increased police presence at funerals as well as searches and pat-downs outside churches and funeral homes.
“Funerals are safe,” Emanuel said. “Where there’s a gang funeral, given that they’ve shown no respect for a place of worship, we’re going to change how they’re going to operate.”
Emanuel said one person already was arrested under the new checks, though it’s not clear whether the full force of extra security has been rolled out.
Last Monday afternoon, the funeral for known gang member James Holman was interrupted when gunfire broke out in the vestibule of St. Columbanus Church.
Eyewitness April Smith said she saw a man approach the church from 72nd and Prairie, then walk inside and start shooting. She heard at least 10 shots before seeing the man run out, drop the gun and take off, she said.
Mary Sistrunk said her son, 21-year-old Sherman Miller, was killed in the shooting. Another man, 26-year-old Deonte Ousley, was listed in critical condition. Police said both Miller and Ousley are “convicted felons and had a gang affiliation.”
“This has to stop,” Smith said. “If it’s happening at funerals, it’s going to continue to happen.”
Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said earlier that day the police department’s strategy to curb gang violence was working and the number of murders after May 1 had decreased year over year.
A week later, McCarthy shook up his top commanders as part of “an evolutionary process” to move the best people in the top spots.
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