BB gun shots cost thousands in damage

More than a dozen windows vandalized in Forest Park, Oak Park

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By Timothy Inklebarger and Nona Tepper

Staff Reporters

They may be small, but BB guns impact can be huge. Shots left on windows, doors and even one man's face have cost local residents thousands over the past five months. 

In Forest Park, at least 10 incidents involving BB guns have been reported since June. In Oak Park, 13 incidents involving BB guns have been reported since mid-August. No BB gun shots have been reported in River Forest. 

Property, primarily storefront windows and parked vehicles, has largely been the targets of the shootings. But on the night of Halloween, a Chicago resident was shot in the left cheek on the 900 block of Mapleton Avenue in Oak Park. Perpetrators in that shooting were described as three or four people riding in a white and gray, four-door vehicle. 

"What it's going to take is somebody to see it happen, and get a vehicle description, and a suspect description," said Thomas Aftanas, Forest Park police chief. 

Aftanas said the majority of activity has taken place along Madison Street and Roosevelt Road. Three incidents involved offenders shooting at parked cars, he said. Most offenders strike at night, Aftanas said. 

Their targets include the windows of Proviso Math and Science Academy at 8601 W. Roosevelt Rd.; Kay's Bakery at 7332 Madison St.; and Sylvan Learning Center at 7217 Madison St.

"Honestly I think they just do it at random, just to cost people money," said Amy Agopsowicz, a clerk at Kay's Bakery. 

After Kay's was hit in August, Agopsowicz estimated it cost more than $300 to replace the window that was struck. She said it took repair men about two hours to replace the pane. 

When she heard from the clerk who opened Kay's that morning about the incident—saying that glass covered the tables and there was a small hole in the front window—she said she was neither surprised or scared. 

"You see it a lot," she said, although never before at Kay's. 

"We'll have a wave where there's a bunch done over a specific weekend," Aftanas said, adding that incidents involving BB guns have been fairly consistent since June. He said residents should call the police department if they know anything, and can always report tips anonymously. 

"We hope if somebody knows something, they'll say something," he said. 

Meanwhile in Oak Park, it's mostly businesses that have been hit. Shooters have caused an estimated $7,050 in damage in Oak Park, although the number is likely much higher since several of the police reports did not indicate estimated losses.

Among the worst hit is Sugar Beet Food Co-op at 812 Madison St. One of the grocery store's windows was cracked by a BB shot a few weeks ago – and the repairs could cost as much as $5,000, said Chris Roland, general manager.

Roland said the shot broke through Sugar Beet's triple-paned window. 

Oak Park Deputy Police Chief LaDon Reynolds said the spike in BB gun shootings is on the police department's radar. Occasionally, police to see a flurry of BB guns activity, Reynolds said, but the recent number of shootings is unusual. Nine of the 13 incidents reported to Oak Park police took place in October.

"We've increased our patrols in those hours where [shootings] have occurred," he said.

Like Aftanas, Reynolds encouraged businesses and residents to contact the police with any information. 

"It's almost cliché at this point, but it really does the trick – if you see something, say something," he said.

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