Witnesses dispute police account of fatal CTA shooting

Chicago police shot and killed a man on a CTA Red Line train early Saturday who, officials alleged, was walking through the train with a gun.

The shooting occurred inside the Garfield CTA station on the South Side shortly after 1:40 a.m., after a train operator directed police to the train car in which George Lash, 19, was last seen, police said in a news release.

Police said that two officers approached Lash and that he allegedly began to fight with the officers and pointed a gun at them, prompting them to shoot him.

But several witnesses who telephoned the Tribune and other media outlets Saturday countered that version of events, arguing that Lash appeared unarmed and that the shooting appeared unjustified.

"I didn't see a gun at all," said Natalie Bruce, who said she was on her way home from church when the shooting occurred. "The officers put his hands behind his back. They seemed like they were patting him down, and they tussled a little bit, but they had him pinned against the wall."

Ordered to leave the train, Bruce said she did not see the actual shooting but heard shots as she stepped onto the platform.

After the shooting, Lash was taken to Stroger Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at about 2:30 a.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.

Police spokesman Roderick Drew said Saturday that a gun was recovered at the scene. The Independent Police Review Authority, which reviews all police-involved shootings, is investigating.

from the Trib


Tinley Park cop cruiser shattered

A landscaping brick was used Sept. 2 to shatter the windshield of a squad car and to damage a 2009 Chevrolet Impala in the 17300 block of Valley Drive.
from the Southtown Star

Pilsen parents occupy field house to protest demolition

Several dozen parents are staging a sit-in at a Pilsen elementary school field house, protesting the planned demolition of the dilapidated structure.

"We want it turned into a library, that's what we want," said Araceli Gonzalez of the Whittier Elementary school field house, 1900 W. 23rd St.

Gonzalez, who has a 10-year-old daughter at Whittier, had staked out the field house and surrounding playground with about 30 other parents and community members to stop the demolition of the building. Parents said they had been camped out in the field house since Wednesday.

The field house -- paint peeling, roof warped -- had been set to be destroyed this fall after a CPS engineer found it to be structurally unsound, said CPS spokeswoman Monique Bond. But the demolition is not happening this week, as permits have been delayed, Bond said.

Although parents have lobbied for the building to be repaired or rebuilt into a library, Bond said the district lacked the money.

"(With) the budgetary constraints we are under, nothing is going to happen," Bond said. "That building has to come down."

But community members said they hired their own engineer who came to a different conclusion. Pilsen resident Gema Gaete said their engineer determined that the building could be salvaged with minimal investment.

While nobody has been arrested, the sit-in at times has become tense. Police this morning pushed the doors of the field house open, but did not try to enter the building.

"Why are you treating us like criminals?" Gaeta said when school liaison Sgt. Ramone Ferrer pushed the door open. "Go fight the real criminals."

"I'm asking you guys to step out so we can talk," Ferrer said, during the heated conversation.

"You cannot take control of the building," he said.

The parents, who said they have been asking for a library for years, refused to move.

Although the school has classroom libraries parents said they are too small, their book collections incomplete.

"Our kids are missing out," said parent George Merga. "They want to read books, they don't have a place they can come and sit down."

Along the outside of the building, signs read "Mr. Huberman don't wreck our dreams" and "re-polish don't demolish."

Under the noon sun, the protest continued. Parents shouted, "Queremos Biblioteca!" CPS officials milled around outside the playground fence.

Police are working to facilitate a meeting between parents and school officials, blocking others from entering the school property.

"The residents want for their children, a library, a library that is dearly needed in this community," said 10th District Commander Scott Ruiz. "Hopefully both sides will get together and they will talk."
from the Trib

Bogus driver took bus for a spin

There was something not quite right about the CTA bus that pulled into the agency's 103rd Street garage last week.

It hit another bus as it entered, and when a CTA worker went to confront the driver, who was wearing a bus driver's uniform, the man took off on foot, according to video from the bus' security cameras.

Turns out, the driver was not a CTA employee. Authorities believe he stole a uniform from an acquaintance last month and used it to pass himself off as a bus driver. He is now the subject of a search by the CTA and Chicago police.

The driver knew what he was doing, CTA President Richard Rodriguez said Thursday.

Video shows that he was able to log in and start the bus. He used the bus between about 8 p.m. and midnight Sept. 9. The bus traveled between the garage and 95th Street, according to the GPS on the bus, Rodriguez said.

The man, whose identity has not been released by police, even picked up passengers and stopped the vehicle a few times.

"This person was in uniform, so the person looked like a legitimate CTA employee. So every indication, anyone off the street would have said that this was an employee," Rodriguez said.

The CTA employee whose uniform was stolen is cooperating with police and is not considered to be involved in the theft. CTA officials are now re-evaluating check-in procedures.

from the Trib


Woman charged with her third attack on jail guard

A Chicago woman who is already facing prison time for attacking a jail guard is apparently at it again, charged with her third assault on an officer in just over a year.

Sabrina Streeter, 27, who was sentenced to prison last week for assaulting a Cook County Jail correctional officer, was charged with assaulting yet another officer just days before she was to leave the jail for prison, according to a release from the Cook County Sheriff's office.

Streeter first came to the jail in August 2009 after being charged with prostitution in Burbank, the release said. She was assigned to the women’s general population while awaiting trial, and in March 2010, was charged with assaulting a correctional officer.

She was convicted of that charge and sentenced to spend 364 days in the ail. But in June, she was again charged with aggravated battery to another officer, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison, the release said.

On Aug. 22, a first-year correctional officer went to Streeter’s cell to let her out for recreation. When the officer opened the cell door, Streeter stepped out and punched the female officer in the face, the release said.

Because of her record of violence against officers, all of Streeter’s movements are videotaped, and other officers were quickly able to detain Streeter and arrest her again.

Just 10 days later, she was transported to the Dwight Correctional Center to begin her three-year sentence. She will be transported back to Cook County Jail for hearings on the latest charge.

from the Sun-Times