Guard Recklessly Shoots CHA Youth

by  Assistant Editor

A mid sizzling weather on May 30, tempers were blazing between tenants of the Chicago Housing Authoritys LeClaire Courts complex and the developments security guards. A confrontation between residents and security guards left 12-year-old Marcus Finley shot and wounded.

According to dozens of witnesses to the incident, the security guard aimlessly fired his weapon into a crowd of people during a squabble with a few of the residents at the public housing site on the far Southwest Side.

According to residents, the shooting later resulted in several protests for the dismissal of the guard as well as for the security firm hired to serve and protect the residents and management.

Eyewitness accounts of the event said the day began with children playing a game, throwing buckets of ice cold water on each other trying to keep cool.

The guard shot the youth after shooting into a crowd of people that had gathered around him after he allegedly beat up three other people, according to onlookers at the scene.

“I saw the whole thing from beginning to end,” Kevin Sutton told Residents Journal at the public housing complex later that day.

According to Sutton, the incident occurred when 14-year-old Bianca McGee and another youth threw water on the security guard who shot Finley.

“He slammed that babys face down to the pavement,” said Sutton, a longtime resident of LeClaire Courts. The guard allegedly grabbed McGee, who was closest to him, and began “manhandling” her, Sutton said.

McGees 20-year-old sister, Vanity McGee, told RJ the next day, after she was released from jail, that she got involved in the fight when she saw the security guard pushing her younger sister. Next, a crowd formed around the fight.

14-year-old Briannca McGee (pictured with hand to her face) was a victim of a beating by the security guard who later shot another youth at the CHA LeClaire Courts public housing complex on May 30. Here, she stands with other LeClaire Courts residents after a protest and rally outside the on-site private security companys office where the security officer was being questioned, as Chicago police officers stand guard. Photo by Beauty Turner

Then, someone broke a window of the security guards car, which was nearby. The noise from the shattered glass made the guard stop fighting with the women. He grabbed his revolver and shot once in the air, and the crowd began to disperse, according to eyewitnesses.

“The guard pulled out a revolver,” said one LeClaire Courts resident who asked to remain anonymous. “He shot one time into the air.”

Then the guard lowered his gun and shot three more times into the crowd of children that was directly across from him, leaving young Finley shot in the arm and laying on the ground bleeding.

The unnamed security guard formerly worked for First Security, a firm hired by the PM 1, the private contractor which manages LeClaire Courts. The guard claimed to have accidentally shot the young man, according to Chicago Housing Authority officials.

“The guard was shot at and he returned fire, accidentally shooting the young man,” said CHA spokesperson Derek Hill on a local televised news broadcast.

Hill’s account of the incident was disputed, however, by LeClaire Court residents at the time that RJ interviewed the residents.

The day after the incident, at 1 p.m., residents, activists, news reporters and police officers gathered in front of the security firm’s office in LeClaire Courts, protesting the shooting of young Finley.

“The guard that shot that little baby is in there working,” Paul McKinley, a member of Voices Of The Ex-Offenders (V.O.T.E), said over a bull horn. “We want this security firm out of this development,” proclaimed community activist Fred Hampton Jr., chairman of Prisoners of Conscience Committee.

During the day’s protest, Mark Carter, another member of V.O.T.E, said over a bull horn. “Let’s whip the master slave,” Carter added, directing the comment to CHA spokesperson Hill.

“He doesn’t like Black people, nor does Terry Peterson,” Carter said, referring to CHA CEO Peterson and Hill, both of whom are African-American men.

During the protest, Finley’s sister, Iesha Finley, spoke about her concerns with her brother’s condition. She said her brother was being treated for the gunshot wound at an area hospital.

“What about my brother?” Iesha Finley asked. “He didn’t do anything, and he has to be hospitalized with a bullet still in his arm from an incompetent security guard’s action,” she said over a megaphone to the crowd of people gathered at the site.

Willie “JR” Fleming, an activist and organizer from the Coalition to Protect Public Housing, also poked fun at Hill during the protest.

“Hill wants to apologize about that lie he told on television last night, right Hill?” Fleming said over the megaphone.

Hill seemed to take the verbal attacks in stride and just smirked. Hill told RJ a few days later that two other guards other than the security guard who shot Finley had been hurt by Vanity McGee.

McGee allegedly hit them with a baseball bat, breaking the hand of one of the guards “in four different places,” Hill said.

RJ asked Hill which hospital the injured guards were taken to confirm his report and try to talk to the guards about the shooting.

But Hill declined to tell RJ the location. Two days later on June 2, mayoral candidate Bill “Dock” Walls led a group of protesters to Mayor Richard M. Daley’s office on the 5th floor of City Hall to ask that the security guard’s actions and the security firm be investigated. Walls also wanted the mayor to terminate First Security’s CHA contract.

“There are questionable connections to who this company that works in LeClaire Courts is attached to. It is allegedly connected to a CHA official as well as to this office,” Walls said, alluding to the rumors about the mayor’s brother’s insurance company’s dealings with CHA private contractors.

“The residents in LeClaire Courts fear for their safety. They want this security firm out of their development,” Walls said.

In the three years that they have been at the public housing site, the private security company was allegedly linked to two other shootings of LeClaire Courts residents, according to the CHA tenants at the City Hall protest.

“What type of a message is CHA sending? Open season on poor black folks? Do the right thing,” Walls said.

“The Mayor is not here but I will give him the letter and other materials that you gave to me to give him,” said Lance T. Lewis, assistant press secretary to the mayor.

CHA spokesperson Hill later told RJ over the phone that the security guard had been fired.

“He is no longer working for CHA,” Hill said.

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