Gang funeral in Forest Park cemetery

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By JEAN LOTUS

Updated July 17, 12:15 p.m.

Local and regional police were on high alert for two days during the wake, funeral and interment last week in Forest Home Cemetery of a 22-year-old reputed gang member who was shot and killed by a Cicero police officer on July 5.

The man, identified as Cesar Munive by NBC-TV, was buried at Forest Home Cemetery the morning of July 13 after a funeral service at Parkwyn Funeral Home in the 6900 block of Roosevelt Road in Berwyn.

On Friday morning before Munive's funeral, police pulled over vehicles traveling on Roosevelt Road, just as they had done the previous evening during Munive's wake.

After the funeral service, mourners drove to Forest Home Cemetery where they passed two Forest Park police cars at the entrance and several squad cars and undercover police vehicles parked throughout the cemetery.

The police helicopter hovered overhead for part of the ceremony. Several squad cars from Forest Park were parked on the east side of the cemetery bridge. Also, three large police SUVs with armed officers inside were parked on the burial-mound hill in the middle of the cemetery.

"It's been commonplace in other place at other funerals, carry handguns and shoot in the air as a final salute to another gang member," said Riverside Police Chief Weitzel, spokesman for the West Suburban Drug/Gang Enforcement (WEDGE) task force, whose assistance was requested by Berwyn and Cicero police.

But that did not happen at Forest Home.

The graveside ceremony was attended by around 30 people, who appeared to be mostly in their early 20s or younger. Around noon as the ceremony ended, a small green dump truck poured dirt into the grave and cemetery workers tamped down the grave site with boards and drove away.

Mourners lingered afterwards and some appeared to carve a message into one of the tree trunks near the burial site. Mourners left the cemetery around 12:30 p.m.

On Thursday night, during Munive's wake, police were actively making their presence felt in Berwyn and south Oak Park after police received intelligence of an alleged threat to shoot a police officer in retaliation for the man's death, according to Weitzel.

"That information was obtained by the Cicero Police Department, so I don't have details," he said.

A group of at least 14 police officers and several marked and unmarked police vehicles pulled over vehicles driven by known gang members attending the evening wake.

"[WEDGE] was requested by the Cicero and Berwyn police departments. Our purpose is to maintain a physical presence, because we know how the players are," said Weitzel.

"Our officers recognized active gang members that were coming there and members of other gangs who might show up to pay their respects. We knew that could escalate," Weitzel said. "We were there to identify them and insure that there wasn't any other spill over as a result of the wake and funeral."

Weitzel said the Cook County Sheriff's Gang Unit also participated, as did police departments of Berwyn and Cicero.

Police searched vehicles and gave some drivers traffic tickets. Weitzel didn't know exactly how many traffic stops police made.

A Chicago Police Department helicopter hovered over Harlem Avenue near Roosevelt Road for several hours on Thursday afternoon and evening.

Munive was "self-admitted" gang member, according to Weitzel. A Facebook page for the Almighty Insane Cicero Latin Counts mentions the death of one of their members on that date.

Munive was shot after a gang fight in a Cicero alley near 13th Street and 56th Court by a Cicero police officer around 7 p.m. on July 5, after Munive allegedly pulled a gun and pointed it at an officer. The Illinois State Police are performing an independent investigation of the shooting, Weitzel said.

Munive's criminal record included a charge of criminal sexual abuse of a child in 2008. He later was sentenced to 180 days in jail for shooting North Riverside 11- and 12-year old boys in the legs with BB guns when they resisted paying money to join a gang-like "association."

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