Local police don't ignore East Chicago, Gary slayings
Sunday, May 13, 2007 12:19 AM CDT


Suspected street gang violence sent several bodies to
Indiana morgues last week, and some city leaders began
to wonder if the deadly stint would set a trend for
the entire summer.

All told, seven people were killed by gunfire in Gary
and East Chicago last week, a Lake County Coroner's
Office spokesman said.

"I hope it's not a prelude, but it looks like it might
be. That's why we're trying to get ahead of the
problem now," Gary Police Deputy Chief Tom Papadakis
said. "It's looking like it's going to be a long, hot

In East Chicago last Monday, 7-year-old Angel Silvas
was shot in the head and killed during a gun battle in
a neighborhood long said to be controlled by the Latin

Police and neighbors say the boy's father, Michael
Silvas Jr. -- who was a City Council candidate on
Tuesday's ballot -- was a former Latin King who had
recently become a Vice Lord.

Silvas was charged Friday with six gun-related
felonies related to the shooting.

While difficult to tally which deaths were
gang-related, officials on both sides of the state
line are not waiting for explanations to take
preventive action.

In Indiana, Gary police have formed a special
interdiction unit this week to combat gun- and
gang-related crimes, while Hammond officials
appropriated $50,000 for enhanced after-school police
patrols in areas with known gang presence. In
Illinois, Lansing and Calumet City are in the process
of joining Gary and several other area cities that
have joined with the Chicago Police Department's
Fourth District to form a new group called the Illiana
Regional Gang Taskforce.

"I think when communities want to try to ignore
activity that is happening in their community, or
don't get aggressive, then they are really putting the
community at risk," Lansing Police Lt. Pete Grutzius
said. "It becomes a climate of tolerance, and I think
that tolerance breeds more problems ultimately."

Those problems include drug dealing, homicides, and
for some law-abiding residents, a general uneasiness,
said Grutzius, who is all too aware that gangs don't
stop at the state line.

Chicago Police Tactical Lt. Maurice Richards, who is
helping organize the new task force, said the group
intends to fight the gang problem by sharing
"intelligence" between departments and thinking

With time as an officer in narcotic and gang task
forces in his 21 years career, Calumet City police
Investigator Marco Glumac has seen first hand how
violence in one area can ripple to another.

"Whether with vehicles or computers, we know that a
lot of these different groups are intermingled between
towns, Glumac said. "They float between each
particular town, and a lot of the different gangs are
structured differently. With that structure comes a
lot of movement.

"When you are on the run -- whether the police are
chasing you, or other gang members -- you have to be

Officials in Hammond, East Chicago, Gary, Lake County
and the FBI have long said the decision to tear down
Chicago's crime-ridden Robert Taylor and Cabrini Green
high-rises has scattered more instances of crime into
Lake County and the South Suburbs.

"With a lot of this migration, you get problems. They
used to be in downtown Chicago. Now they're in
downtown Hammond," said Hammond Mayor Thomas
McDermott. "We know about that, and we're doing
everything we can to deal with it."