Chicago police superintendent addresses North Avenue Beach mayhem that left man shot and critically wounded

A 19-year-old man was critically injured after being shot multiple times at a gathering at North Avenue Beach Tuesday night, Chicago police Superintendent David Brown said at a news conference Wednesday morning. One person was in custody following the large gathering of young people.

Around 9:50 p.m., officers heard people screaming due to two women fighting at the beach, Brown said. Moments later, the officers saw a flash and heard shots being fired.

“It’s not illegal to come to the beach if you’re a young person. It’s not. It’s never going to be. But at the same time, we’re going to hold you accountable if you break the law, regardless of your age,” Brown said. “So what we’ve done is, obviously, added several layers of security measures, that includes the bag checks, officer presence, very aggressive patrol, very proactive policing around the beaches.”

The challenge for law enforcement is that the beaches are “porous” and people can get to the beach around the checkpoints, Brown said. There were also two gun arrests earlier in the day at the beach before the shooting took place.

The officers chased two men who started running away from the scene. One of those men tossed a fanny pack, which was recovered by officers, and officers found a Glock handgun with an extended magazine inside. The man who tossed the fanny pack was able to escape arrest, authorities said.

The second man who was running was captured and charges were pending against him. The 19-year-old man who was shot was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Hospital in critical condition, Brown said.

Lincoln Park Ald. Michele Smith said in a tweet Wednesday morning that North Avenue Beach “must be safe for everyone.”

“We will not tolerate guns on the beach,” she wrote. “Police must be allowed to use metal detectors or wands to control the situation.”

Around 4 p.m. Tuesday, small groups of young people began arriving at the beach, believed to have been promoted by a notice that was posted on social media, Brown said.

“People at the beach, including the young people, were having a good time. It was very peaceful initially at 4 p.m. There were also families at the beach and the volleyball court was full,” Brown said.

Officers had set up checkpoints at the beach and were checking people’s bags. Just after 5 p.m., officers recovered a 9 mm handgun from a fanny pack during a bag check.

Brian Wade, 20, was arrested and charged with a felony count of unlawful use of a weapon, Brown said. He did not have a firearm owners identification card, according to a police spokesperson.

The beach continued to be peaceful until the shooting that wounded the 19-year-old man broke out, Brown said.

Soon after the shooting, officers began to clear the beach, and the groups of young people spilled over into the neighborhood, Brown said. At 9:50 p.m., a fight broke out in a crowd of people, who were from the beach, at North Avenue and Wells Street in the Old Town neighborhood. Multiple officers who tried to control the crowd had non-life-threatening injuries.

Four people were arrested during the fight, police said. A 15-year-old boy was charged with one misdemeanor count of reckless conduct and given a traffic citation for obstruction of traffic by a non-motorist. A 16-year-old girl was charged with one misdemeanor count of reckless conduct and a traffic citation for obstruction of traffic.

At the news conference, Brown also discussed a shooting that occurred at a Red Line stop on the South Side Tuesday. Around 7:50 p.m. on the Red Line, in the 200 block of West 47th Street in the Bronzeville neighborhood, one person shot another before running away from the station platform and escaping arrest. The shooting was caught on video.

The person who was shot was taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center in critical condition from multiple gunshot wounds, Brown said.

Kevin Ryan, vice president of security for the Chicago Transit Authority, said most attacks on the CTA are targeted and not random. There are 33,000 cameras to help police investigations by serving “as a silent witness.” The video of Tuesday’s shooting was given to CPD within 90 minutes.