The Village of Oak Lawn, in response to a Freedom of Information request filed by the Oak Lawn Leaf, admitted that it did not issue an Everbridge Alert about the October 1st armed robbery that occurred on the Wolfe Wildlife Refuge Trail at 109th Street and Laramie Avenue.
A man on the trail was approached by three males with a knife who demanded his wallet and car keys. While the Everbridge system is supposed to alert residents of crimes and other emergencies, the system only issued four alerts from October 1 to October 4 and none of them involved the armed robbery.
The issue was first raised on social media sites with one resident mentioning the brazen robbery attempt, some denying that it occurred and others finally chiming in about the lack of notification to residents. In fact, the Everbridge alerts that were provided to residents, according to the Freedom of Information response involved two weather related warnings, a 5K race for one of the middle schools, and hydrant testing that was taking place. At no time were residents told that three men had attempted an armed robbery at Wolfe Refuge.
Nonetheless, the alleged criminals found themselves in hot water, as they allegedly robbed another individual on 111th Street at a Marathon gas station in Alsip. One allegedly pulled a knife on a customer pumping gas at the station. In the course of solving the robbery investigation in Alsip, the police were able to link the suspects to the Oak Lawn crime.
Andre Mendoza, 18, of Alsip, Jacob Andres 19, of Oak Lawn, and Malik Adams, 19, of Chicago, were eventually charged with felony armed robbery. Bail for Mendoza was set at $150,000, while bail for Andres and Adams was set at $90,000. Their next court appearance is Oct. 29 in the District Five’s Bridgeview courthouse.
The Village of Oak Lawn’s use of Everbridge has been criticized by residents for failing to provide notifications in the past. Administration officials initially defended the Everbridge system with some Trustees and administration members blaming residents for failing to register for alerts correctly. Recently, village officials, led by former Police Chief Bill Villanova, admitted that the system had problems but assured residents that the problems were resolved and the system would perform better in the future.