But the lawsuit stalled because officials could not reach the owner, who did not live in the home in the 6200-block of South Morgan Street. When gunfire filled the two-story house early Tuesday, killing four, the city had made no progress on any of the security measures.
Two days later, the city finally reached the owner, Enrique Badillo Sr., according to city Law Department spokeswoman Kristen Cabanban.
She couldn’t say why the city took over a year to serve Badillo with the lawsuit. Public records show he owns several properties in Chicago and resides in Logan Square.
The court will now have more jurisdiction over compliance with safety improvements, Cabanban said. City officials have seen no evidence that any of the measures have been taken by the owner, she said. A hearing is set for July 1.
The city filed the “public nuisance” suit in March of 2020, months after a man was shot during a large party inside the home, according to the lawsuit.
Police found the man bleeding in the kitchen from several gunshot wounds on Nov. 1, 2019, the suit states. He was taken to a hospital in serious condition. At least 50 people were in the home at the time, the suit claims, and there was drinking and a dice game.
It’s unclear if any of the victims from Tuesday’s mass shooting were living in the home back then. One of those shot and badly wounded was a barber who lived there and cut hair at the house.
Attempts to reach the property owner were unsuccessful Thursday.
Police have released few details about Tuesday’s shooting, and it’s unclear whether any of the measures sought by the city could have prevented it. Police have not said whether there’s any video of the attack, or how the gunman got into the house.
The city had filed the lawsuit to “take action to abate criminal activity” at the home, a two-story wood-frame house with a gray stone front. The lawsuit listed a series of actions the city could take to make the home safer: Evicting residents and ordering the owner to install security measures, including fencing, gate locks, outdoor lighting, security cameras and hiring a security guard.
The home was last inspected in January 2020, though the inspector was unable to enter the home, according to the suit. The inspector listed several code violations: broken windows, an unsafe staircase and porch, and construction work performed without a permit.
The city sought to fine the owner $10,000, plus $1,000 per day for each violation since the inspection.
Ald. Stephanie Coleman, whose 16th Ward includes the home on Morgan Street, did not respond to a request for comment.
The attack was one of three mass shootings in Chicago in little over a week.
Relatives said one of the victims, 34-year-old Blake Lee, lived in the home and did odd jobs in the neighborhood. He died in the attack. Another resident of the home, James Tolbert, ran a barbershop from the house. He was seriously wounded.
“That man is a barber, he cuts hair from here, this is his business and this is his home,” Robyn Eddmonds said during a Wednesday vigil for the victims. “It was his home that he opened up to (others) but it also was his business. He wasn’t a gangbanger… He didn’t do any of that.”
Also living in the home was Tolbert’s girlfriend and their 2-year-old daughter. The girlfriend remained in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the head. The girl was not shot but was taken to a hospital for observation.
The victims were gathered in the home for the 28th birthday of Ratanya Aryiel Rogers, who was shot and killed in the attack. Police said a gunman broke into the home before 5:40 a.m. and started shooting. All but one of the victims was shot in the head, police said.
The others who died were Denice Mathis, 32, a mother of four boys, and Shermetria Williams, 19, the mother of a 2-year-old girl.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire – Copyright Chicago Sun-Times 2021.)