|Leo Matias, murdered in Uptown. Image: Fox32|
The gangbangers of Uptown claimed an innocent this week.
21-year-old Leo Matias was working for a safety company, swapping out fire extinguishers at a Wilson Avenue flop house at 10 o’clock Tuesday morning. A black 4-door vehicle with blacked-out windows and chrome wheels pulled up and opened fire on a man who was sitting in a Chrysler parked near Matias’ work truck.
The intended target—a banger from the South Side’s Grand Crossing neighborhood—was not injured. An errant bullet caught Leo in the head and he died the next day.
Leo’s family agreed to donate his organs, a move that may save as many as six lives, according to Craig Wall at Fox32.
Matias’ slaying has many 19th district officers fired up. One cop wrote, “Here’s a young man doing the right thing and has his life ended by punks.”
Leo’s death is Uptown’s fifth homicide of the year. A 400% increase over 2013.
Sadly, the gang-ripped neighborhood’s alderman, James Cappleman, opted to focus Uptown’s crime-fighting efforts on vagrants and drunks rather than fighting to bring in more cops to handle the real problem. With the 2015 budget approved, don’t expect anything to change next year. At least not for the better.
The 25% cut in our police district’s manpower leaves local police executives in a tough spot.
Where should they deploy the district’s limited tactical teams? To fight burglaries in west Lakeview? To battle Wrigleyville and Boystown’s robbery offenders? To counter gang activity in Uptown? To babysit drunks on Clark and Halsted Streets?
Without proper staffing, the district is sure to continue this pattern of solving one neighborhood’s problem, only to have another neighborhood’s problem run amok. Then the focus will go there and the problems will return to the area where the cops used to be.
Unfortunately, Uptown’s problem is measured in lives. Or drunks. Depends who you ask.