Chicago

Businesses worry about rising crime downtown after latest violent outburst at Millennium Park

With an increase in downtown violence, businesses fear it will scare customers away. Just last night, an off-duty Cook County Sheriff’s deputy working security in Millennium Park shot a man who had opened fire in the park.

The scene extended to Riverwalk, where the suspect tried to get away on a party boat.

CBS 2’s Shardaa Gray talked to businesses about the increase in violence.

The shooting in Millennium Park happened on the first weekend with restricted hours for visitors under age 18, who must be accompanied by an adult after 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.

That didn’t stop bullets from flying Friday night. The incident ended along the Chicago Riverwalk, near several businesses.

A packed tour boat got a view of more than just the city Friday night, but also an investigation of officers looking for a suspect who fired shots in Millennium Park.

Chicago police say a 22-year-old man refused to be wanded at an entrance into Millennium Park on Monroe Street.

An off-duty Cook County Sheriff’s deputy approached him, the man turned and fired shots, and the security officer fired back, hitting the gunman in the buttocks.

The suspect then ran to the Chicago River, where he hopped on Island Party Boat trying to escape.

This all unfolded on the second night since the new security rules were put into place at Millennium Park, including a restriction prohibiting unaccompanied minors from staying in the park after 6 p.m.

“It really does suck to be down here and hear about all this going on, because it draws people away,” said Lily Stein, manager of Beat Kitchen, located half a mile down the Chicago Riverwalk from the party boat.

Stein said an increase in violence drives away business.

“The violence definitely draws people away from down here, which really is hard, but I do emphasize the fact that we do have a large security presence down here and that is really helpful,” Stein said. “I’m sure I’ve seen some of them this morning, and last night too. They come around here all the time, which is great, and it definitely makes some customers feel a little bit safer I think.”

Less than 24 hours later, the Chicago Police Marine Unit searched the Chicago River, and SCUBA divers recovered a weapon from the Chicago River in relation to the shooting at Millennium Park.

Stein says she’d like to see a change in local community compared to an increase in officers.

“I think it’s important for police to work with local communities, and establish relationships, and I don’t think adding a police presence, adding more of an police presence, is necessarily where we need to begin,” Stein said.

The man who fired the shots in Millennium Park was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The off-duty officer was taken to a hospital for observation.

Charges are still pending against the gunman.

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