This community has been rocked in recent days by a pair of violent, senseless killings. Two teenagers, both recent graduates of high school and both with their best years in front of them, were shot to death over petty and insignificant matters. John Ollech, of Forest Park, and Keyana Bates, of Maywood, should be alive today.
Instead, family and friends are left reeling with grief and anger and unanswered questions. Neighbors can’t get the sound of gunfire out of their ears. And for what? A bag of dope and wearing the wrong colors, according to investigators.
If there’s any immediate salve for the pain that’s been wrought, it’s that police in Forest Park and in Maywood apprehended suspects in these murders with blazing efficiency. Within hours of both crimes, investigators had begun narrowing their focus. Then, as Ollech’s friends and family gathered on a stormy Friday morning to say goodbye, two young men stood before a judge to begin answering for his death. Those mourning Bates didn’t have to wait much longer. The alleged gang-banger accused of firing 15 shots – four of them striking Bates – was in court this Tuesday morning.
The detectives under Chief Jim Ryan in Forest Park and Chief Tim Curry in Maywood deserve all the praise in the world for so quickly bringing a sense of order to those whose lives have been tossed into tragic chaos.
Either through this newspaper or through the grapevine, the circumstances of these shootings have been widely discussed. Forest Park residents may even be taking some comfort in realizing that these murders were driven largely by circumstances occurring outside of Forest Park. Certainly it’s better that we do not live in a town where neighbors routinely exchange gunfire, but to dismiss the violence that surrounds us as a problem that does not include us would be an enormous mistake.
Recently, police officers in Forest Park have gone to great lengths to work cooperatively with neighboring departments – in those departments’ communities – to curb the violence and the drugs that fuel street gangs. Some of those gang members live here, in this town, and some of them don’t. These joint efforts among law enforcement are an acknowledgement that regardless of where it originates, the problems affect us all.
That a Forest Park teen was killed in Maywood, or that a Maywood teen was hunted into Forest Park, is irrelevant. Blood was spilled.