ROCKFORD—Ald. Chad Tuneberg, R-3, said “pop-up” after-hours parties in parking lots and in closed public parks are turning deadly and need to stop.
Tuneberg said groups of people are driving to parking lots where they are trespassing and drinking in public for an impromptu party, typically after bars close for the night.
“Now, it has spilled into our park system,” Tuneberg said. “We have had multiple cases in the past of these parties and we have had shootings at these parties.”
Two men were killed and two others were injured during a shooting around 4:30 am Saturday near the Twin Shelters in Sinnissippi Park. Tuneberg said police have told him there were people gathering there to party even though the park was closed at the time. A 27-year-old man died at the park and a 28-year-old man died after being taken to a local hospital, according to information from the Rockford Park District Police.
That incident had initially been reported by Rockford police as a woman shot while waiting in a vehicle in the 1600 block of Parkview Avenue for friends.
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Like the shootings in Sinnissippi Park on Saturday, Tuneberg said a similar gathering ended with a 28-year-old woman being shot about 4:15 am May 31 in the University of Illinois College of Medicine parking lot.
“The fact of the matter was it was one of these pop-up parking lot parties at 4:15 in the am in the parking lot at UIC on the southside of the building,” Tuneberg said. “Somebody showed up and started shooting and one girl was hit. She didn’t die, but was shot.”
Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara said people are going to these kind of “pop-up parties” in secluded parking lots, behind buildings and in closed public parks. McNamara said the city is working with the Rockford Park District to improve safety and security measures at neighborhood parks.
“These are assets that everyone should be able to enjoy, live next to and do that safely,” McNamara said.
Ald. Jonathan Logemann, D-2, said there were similar incidents of pop parties in his ward last year that ended in violence, but have not seemed to be a problem this year. He said one violent incident took place at a warehouse in his ward in the area of St. Louis Avenue and Charles Street.
Logemann said that if residents see or hear these kind of gatherings, they should contact authorities. Logemann said when people reported them in his ward, they seemed to move out of the area.
“Right now it’s tough,” Logemann said. “I think we can do more to root out the violence, but a lot of it seems to be at these parties — maybe they were house parties a couple years back but these pop-up parties right now — where we see the violence occurring early in the week hours of the morning.”
The shootings in Sinnissippi Park were part of a violent weekend in the Rockford area.
A 25-year-old woman was killed after being shot around 7:30 pm Friday in the 600 block of Horsman Street. No arrests had been announced as of Monday morning.
In addition, Rayshawn Smith, 46, of Rockford, was charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and unlawful restraint after the killing of 38-year-old Ashley Hardin. She was found dead behind a business in the 5100 block of E. Rockton Road by Roscoe Police Department officers. The killing is suspected to be a domestic-violence-related homicide.
A Rockford Register Star reporter since 2005, Jeff Kolkey writes about city government, politics, trends in the Rockford region and more. He is a Rockford resident, a married father of two and a White Sox fan. He can be reached at (815) 987-1374, via email at [email protected] and on Twitter @jeffkolkey.