DUNNING — From a pristine block of worker cottages near the city’s western border, Daniel is seven years and 15 miles removed from his former life as a gang member.
On Monday afternoon, he got a shocking reminder of that past.
Just before 5 p.m., the 23-year-old, who’s using a pseudonym out of fear for his safety, was walking with his brother in an alley behind the 3600 block of North Oriole Avenue when a man pulled up next to them in a green Honda sedan and demanded to know their gang affiliation, he said.
“He was revving his engine, and when we didn’t say nothing, he said ‘Hey, I’m talking to you, n—-!” said Daniel.
The driver veered out of the alley, wheeled back around and the man fired six gunshots from his window before screeching away, he said.
“I don’t know where any of this is coming from,” Daniel said of the shooting. “It’s just completely random s—.”
Originally from Pilsen, Daniel and his brother have lived in the neighborhood for more than a year without incident, he said. Both commute Downtown every day, where they work at a Portillo’s restaurant.
No one was wounded in the shooting, police said.
Within minutes of the shots ringing out, residents swarmed the block and demanded to know how such a harrowing scene could play out in their placid, suburban-style neighborhood.
“Almost all my neighbors feel less safe now,” said Jeff Eichler, examining a bullet hole in the rear bumper of his Hummer. “I’ve even heard some people talking about moving.”
Eichler watched part of the shooting unfold from his lawn Monday, he said.
Eichler comes from a family of police officers and owns a concealed-carry permit, both common for households in neighborhoods like Dunning. With myriad home security systems and “Police Lives Matter” flags hanging over bungalow porches, the area typically repels even petty criminals.
But that may be changing, Eichler said. There was another shooting on the block about about two weeks ago, he said, adding that it went mostly unreported because no one was wounded.
“This is what’s happening everywhere now,” Eichler said. “I told the cops that if they don’t do anything and the guy comes back, I might have to drop him myself.”
Dozens of residents across the neighborhood took to Facebook in the shooting’s aftermath, sounding calls to “take our neighborhood back” and pressuring Jefferson Park District police to step up their visibility in the area.
Dunning Community Watch, a group started in 2015 by Jason Quaglia, is already busy printing “We Call Police” signs and organizing an outdoor march to deter would-be troublemakers, he said.
“We need to send notice to the criminal element that we’re an active community, and there are lots of neighbors ready to call 911 if they see anything,” Quaglia said. “A march sends out the message that the whole community is involved, and we’re not going to stand for it anymore.”
But with calls all over Facebook to drive the “criminal element” out of the neighborhood, Daniel knows that gang members won’t be the only ones who see him as a target, he said.
“People have my complete apologies for all this happening,” Daniel said. “But they need to know that I’m not here to bring problems. I’m just here trying to mind my own business.”
“There’s usually some conflict down by Harlem and Addison,” he added. “But for someone to come up here and try and claim this beautiful neighborhood like it’s their turf, and in broad daylight? That’s f—ed up.”
No one was wounded, and the incident remains under investigation, police said.