By TONIA HILL
A recent shooting at Cornell Park was discussed during an East Hyde Park-Kenwood Coalition meeting Monday night, Dec. 12, hosted by Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) at Montgomery Place, 5500 S. Shore Dr. According to police, the shooting was not a random attack.
During the meeting, which was attended by Chicago Police Department (CPD) Wentworth Police District Commander Crystal King-Smith and University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) Deputy Chief Joanne Nee, King-Smith said the victim’s murder was not a random attack.
On Friday, Dec. 2, 33-year-old, Curtis Nowells was shot and killed while he was at Cornell Park, 5473 S. Cornell Ave.
Curtis Nowells was walking in the park with his girlfriend when a black male offender wearing a mask approached him from behind and fired multiple shots before fleeing on foot northbound on Cornell Avenue to a nearby car and driving away, said Chicago Police.
According to police, Nowells sustained a gunshot wound to the head and multiple gunshot wounds to the back. No one is in custody and police are still investigating.
King-Smith said that police believe Nowells’ murder was planned and likely the result of conflict within a group using the park as a drop spot for drugs.
“Gangs are not the gangs we used to know from the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s,” Hairston said. “It maybe two people that have a name.”
From time to time there have been arrests from drug sales in Cornell Park, Hairston said, in an interview Tuesday, Dec. 13, in response to community members who weren’t aware that Cornell Park has been used for drugs sales.
She said drugs are not just marijuana there are prescription drugs too and that “there are drug users all the way from the homeless to millionaires that live in the neighborhood.”
The Cornell Park Advisory Council is dedicating a day to make the park more lively. They will be hosting a holiday celebration in the park from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 22. There will be hot chocolate and deserts as well as a bonfire and caroling. Children will also have the chance the make winter bird feeders for birds.
Norman Bell, president of the advisory council said that the shooting in the park is on people’s minds, but the celebration is not a direct response to the shooting. Bell said the holiday celebration is in continuation of predated activities for the council to encourage use of the park.
“We hope that this event will bring more people to the park and make people feel more comfortable about being in the park,” Bell said.