Sunday, October 18, 2015

Iraq veteran on Roseland murder scene: 'Terrorists, right here.'

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Iraq veteran on Roseland murder scene: 'Terrorists, right here.'

Titania McCain in front of her home in the 10600 block of South Prairie Avenue on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015.

 (Megan Crepeau, Chicago Tribune)

Megan CrepeauContact ReporterChicago Tribune

Beat #0512, 3:45 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 18

A man in a red hoodie sobbed into a cellphone as he walked away from the homicide scene on the 10600 block of South Prairie Avenue in the Roseland neighborhood on the Far South Side.

"I'm sorry, uncle," he said with tears on his face. "I don't know what I'm gonna do without him."

His cousin was dead in a car up the block; he had been shot after attending a nearby party.

Titania McCain came out in her bathrobe to make sure her car didn't have any bullet holes.

The gunshots woke her up, she said, and she didn't know what happened. Nor did she expect this to happen on the block of small brick houses.

"It's scary. I've been to Saudi. I've been to Iraq. I've laid at home safe and sound and …"

Her voice trailed off.

McCain, an Army veteran who retired in 2011, said she was stationed in Iraq from 2006 to 2007. She said she'd never seen anything like the shooting scene on her doorstep.

She knew some people were insulted by the nickname "Chiraq," she said, but not her.

"The name doesn't offend me because it's accurate," she said. "Terrorists, right here. People walking around killing people."

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Andrew Holmes got to the corner of 98th and Peoria streets just 20 minutes after an 18-year-old was shot dead there. He stood at the edge of the crime scene in a suit and tie, waiting for mourners to arrive.

"This is a little odd because there's no family members out here," Holmes said. The community activist works with Chicago Survivors, a support network for families of homicide victims.

He kept looking over his shoulder down 98th Street.

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Beat 2533, 8 p.m. Sept. 30

The woman was close to the officer's face, kept from getting any nearer by yellow crime tape wrapped around a tree near where two people had been shot in North Austin Wednesday night.

"This is where I pay my mortgage every month," she said, shaking her finger at the officer. "This is crazy.

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Beat 1914, 6:40 a.m. Sept. 27

Every morning for six months, Gary Rashkow and Garry Werderitch have had coffee at the McDonald's on the corner of Wilson Avenue and Sheridan Road.

They met at a nearby shelter. Werderitch has since moved to a new one that lets him sleep in on weekends, so he was running late Sunday morning.

Rashkow was waiting for him outside the McDonald's when two people were shot in the parking lot.

"Someone gets out (of a car), opens fire at the van and took off around the corner," he said, gesturing at the crime scene.

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The family barbecue in Back of the Yards was breaking up. Parents gathered up their children as the hosts rolled away the grill and started putting away leftovers.

"It was winding down," said Ralph Johnson, 35, who said his barbecue usually draws 40 to 50 relatives. "There was a lotta kids here, a lotta people."

Johnson said he just stepped inside the house, carrying a bowl of greens, around 10:40 p.m. Sunday when he heard about 15 gunshots.  "I thought they were shooting at the door," he said.

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Beat 0934, 8:30 p.m. Sept. 24

Mikaila Holyfield lives on a block of modest single-family homes and apartment buildings in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.  

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A man in a neon safety vest parked his car in the 7-Eleven parking lot and walked inside.

"Do you know how long ago this happened?" the man asked Esmeralda, a cashier at the 7-Eleven who didn't want her last name printed.

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'I've got blood all over'

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Beat #0232, 2:30 a.m. Sept. 20

The woman bleeding on the curb moaned something incomprehensible and rolled on to her side, exposing the dark gash on her head.

"You've got to stay on the board," a uniformed first responder said as he moved her gently onto her back.

Twenty-five minutes earlier, she and five others had been in a Chevrolet Tracker when it was caught in the crossfire of a shooting.

The Tracker lost control and rolled on its side near 57th Street and LaSalle Street, where it stayed as more emergency workers began to swarm the intersection.

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