Man killed near West Loop homeless camp, 2nd shooting at troubled intersection in a month

The intersection of Clinton and Lake streets in the West Loop on December 7, 2023. | CWBChicago

CHICAGO — A man was shot and killed in the West Loop overnight, just steps from a homeless camp that the local alderman has said is a catalyst for violent crime in the area. It’s the second shooting at the same intersection in a month.

Chicago police officers responded to calls of a person shot and found the victim on the street in the 500 block of West Lake around 12:50 a.m., according to a CPD media statement.

The 59-year-old man had suffered a gunshot wound to his chest and subsequently died at Stroger Hospital.

Investigators found shell casings on the southeast corner of Clinton and Lake streets, under the Clinton L station.

On November 8, a 39-year-old man was shot at the same location. Two weeks before that, a man was shot about two blocks away in the 600 block of West Fulton.

For months, Ald. Bill Conway (34th) has been trying to clear out homeless encampments that have become entrenched under viaducts in his ward, saying they are one of the sources of crime in the neighborhood. One of those camps is located a few yards from the intersection of Lake and Clinton, the scene of this morning’s murder and last month’s shooting.

Conway filed a complaint with the city’s inspector general last month after a top aide to Mayor Brandon Johnson told him the administration could do more about the tent city problems, but the administration official linked that help to securing Conway’s votes on legislation important to Johnson.

“In recent months, we have recovered multiple guns, hundreds of drug packets. There has been two armed robberies and two shootings in the last in the last couple of weeks,” Conway said in an ABC7 report on November 15.

“[Johnson’s administration] set the conditions solving this public safety crisis on my votes on tip credit and raising the real estate transfer tax. I’m unwilling to bargain on public safety.”

Last week, Chicago police arrested a man in the homeless camp under the Clinton CTA station after he allegedly sold drugs to an undercover cop. Prosecutors said police found more than $60,000 worth of suspected heroin and crack cocaine in the tent he worked out of, along with a loaded handgun with an extended ammunition magazine attached.

Prosecutors said Tailon Appleton, 19, sold a small amount of drugs to an undercover cop in exchange for currency with serial numbers law enforcement recorded in advance. They arrested him around 2:40 p.m. on November 30 in the 500 block of West Lake.

Cops entered the tent Appleton was “dealing out of,” prosecutors said in their detention petition and found a blue backpack. Inside, they found a backpack containing the firearm and baggies of heroin and crack, police said.

In court records, police said they found nearly three-quarters of a pound of heroin worth $52,875 and $8,610 worth of crack. They also recovered about 5 ounces of liquid codeine and $1,188 in cash, according to the court filings.

Prosecutors charged Appleton with armed violence, a charge that simply means someone is accused of possessing a firearm while engaged in narcotics activity but does not necessarily mean they were violent. He is also charged with manufacture-delivery of heroin, manufacture-delivery of cocaine, and two felony narcotics possession counts.

Judge Maryam Ahmad rejected the state’s detention petition in writing.

She noted that Appleton was alone in the tent and conceded that he was arrested in “an area being ravaged by drugs.”

But, the judge wrote, the arrest is Appleton’s first as an adult. He cares for his mother, who has cancer, she continued, and was “very compliant [with] officers.”

Electronic monitoring “can mitigate the court’s concerns [regarding] continued drug sale activity.”

“As much as I’ve been critical of our current State’s Atty, here the @cookcountysao asked to hold the defendant, which was warranted under these circumstances,” Conway wrote on Twitter. “The judge choosing to release the defendant is shocking. The SAFE-T act wasn’t the issue, it allows detention here.”

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com