BY AMY WOOTEN
Three men were stabbed on the 900 block of West Belmont Avenue in the early morning hours of Aug. 14, adding to the recent spike of crime in that area.
Around 7:15 a.m., the first two victims, one left critically injured, were stabbed after engaging in a verbal altercation with the offender, said police spokesman Marcel Bright. The second and third victims chased the offender after he began to flee. The offender stabbed the second victim again, and then stabbed the third victim before fleeing.
'This was on the street, too,' Bright said. 'That's odd. There's no telling what was going on there.'
There have not been any arrests, and no descriptions or composite sketches have been released.
Police do not believe that the Aug. 14 incident is related to the recent July 3 fatal stabbing of a 16-year-old in the same area.
Last month, Shawn Sparks was stabbed and killed on the street at 938 W. Belmont around 1:30 a.m. Police say the victim knew his attacker, and a verbal altercation became physical. Police located the suspect, but charges have been rejected.
Also, on July 16, a 17-year-old boy was shot and wounded near Belmont and Sheffield.
Bennett Lawson, director of community outreach for the office of Tom Tunney—the alderman of this ward—said that Tunney's office attributes the recent crimes to the area's annual 'mid-summer crime spike.' Although police have not put a pattern together on the stabbings and shooting, the victims seem to be from outside the area and no composite sketch has been released. The alderman's office is working very closely with 19th District police and resident organizations.
The alderman's office will meet with resident organizations, the business community and police next week. 'We need to get a handle on what we can do as a community,' Lawson said.
According to Lawson, the alderman's office has been working with law enforcement in the Sheffield and Belmont area for quite some time. As always, Tunney's office will continue to distribute safety information via its Web site ( www.44thward.org ) and pass out safety whistles at events. Lawson said that, if necessary, the office will distribute additional information to its community.
Ald. Tunney is considering obtaining a blue-light flashing camera or a smaller camera to help patrol the area. Chicago police will increase patrolling of the area, Lawson added.
'There are many faces on the street at any given time,' Lawson said of the Belmont and Sheffield area, attributing some of the traffic to the busy area from the Belmont Red Line stop. That particular strip of Belmont is a destination area for many people—particularly the LGBT community, he added. Even though there doesn't seem to be a specific gay angle to the crimes, Lawson said, 'We'll help put extra eyes on the street.'