CHICAGO (WLS) — The River North neighborhood is on edge again after eight people were left wounded when gunfire erupted early Sunday morning.
“I heard a lot, definitely more than 10 sounds. And for me, it was more like fireworks. They were, like, nonstop,” said Yulia Ilina, who lives in the area.
Detectives said the shooting happened near West Erie Street and North Orleans Street around 2:30 a.m. as a group of people got into a physical fight near the Blum Restaurant and Bar only hours before the Chicago Marathon was set to begin.
“I think it’s frightening,” said Teresa Puglisi, who is visiting Chicago.
Authorities said of the men and women involved in the incident, at least four of the victims were critically wounded, including a man who was shot in the head and a woman who was shot in the stomach.
The victims range in age from 23 to 43 years old. All of them were taken to local hospitals.
No one is custody for the shooting, which remains under investigation.
Some neighborhood residents blame the violence on the late night nightclub, saying it’s not the first time there’ve been problems on the block.
“It brings in certain people that normally probably wouldn’t be in the neighborhood, especially at certain times of the day, and that’s where the issue is,” one resident said.
On Sunday afternoon, the neighborhood’s alderman, Brendan Reilly, who has unsuccessfully tried several times to close the bar, said he has asked the Chicago Police Department to issue a summary closure order to make sure the nightclub doesn’t reopen before the property can be sold.
In an emailed statement, Reilly said, in part, “These late hour nightclubs are a blight on River North, many catering to gangbangers, drug dealers and gun toting patrons….How many more people need to get shot before the city steps up to the plate and starts shutting down these bad operators?”
In fact, back in 2021, when the club was named Clutch Bar and Restaurant, police say, a bouncer there was shot after he refused to let a man in.
And in June, just a few blocks away, surveillance video captured the moment a gunman chased down a man and shot him. That shooting happened steps away from former Cook County Commissioner and River North resident John Fritchey.
“You have establishments like this. They change their name, but the problem stays the same,” Fritchey said. “I was out walking my dog directly around the corner. Gentleman gets shot in the head. Again, this is an ongoing issue we have been facing here. People shouldn’t have to live like this.”
While police have not connected the overnight or June shootings to the club, Fritchey said club owners in River North need to be held responsible for the apparent crime they potentially draw in.
“When we’re having shootouts in front of bars and having over a half a dozen people getting shot, we have a problem,” Fritchey said.
ABC7 reached to the owners of the club, and has yet to hear back.
Reilly’s full statement:
These late hour nightclubs are a blight on River North, many catering to gangbangers, drug dealers and gun toting patrons….How many more people need to get shot before the City steps up to the plate and starts shutting down these bad operators?
I have been petitioning the Department of Business Affairs & Liquor Commissioner to shut down Clutch / Blum for years now, without success.
This bad establishment has been the source of chronic neighborhood complaints and has been linked to prior shooting incidents. Inexplicably, the city has allowed this nightclub to continue to operate, despite my prediction that it was just a matter of time before another shooting incident would occur.
Because the city has failed to close this bar, my office has been working to facilitate the sale of the building to have Blum shut-down and evicted. In fact, the property is currently under contract to be sold next month.
I have asked CPD to issue a summary closure order to ensure this nightclub does not reopen before the building is sold and they are evicted next month. It is my understanding CPD is issuing a summary closure order today.
These late hour nightclubs are a blight on River North, with many catering to gangbangers, drug dealers and gun-toting patrons. Many of the gun crimes being committed downtown overnight are related to fights originating at these late hour clubs, yet these operators are allowed to remain open.
The Commissioner of Business Affairs and his bureaucrats need to do their jobs, stop catering to these bad actors and start revoking liquor licenses. It should not require a mass shooting to result in the closure of a problem nightclub. River North residents and I have been sounding the alarm to the city about Blum for years – yet the city has done nothing to discipline the club.
How many more people need to get shot before the City steps up to the plate and starts shutting down these bad operators? Downtown residents should not be forced to suffer because city bureaucrats refuse to do their jobs.
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https://abc7chicago.com/chicago-shooting-river-north-fire-department-gun-violence/13877629/ River North shooting today: 8 injured in downtown Chicago shooting during fight near Blum Restaurant and Bar by Erie and Orleans