The Oak Lawn Village Board of Trustees has scheduled a special meeting to establish a hearing for the possible revocation of the Chuck E. Cheese business license after a patron was shot after leaving the facility.
At about 9:00 p.m. Saturday night, a man with at least one juvenile passenger left the establishment in Oak Lawn and headed eastbound on 95th Street. According to police sources, another individual followed the man from Chuck E. Cheese along 95th Street and opened fire, shooting as man as 13 times and hitting the adult male in the face.
Evergreen Park Police Officers responded to a call of “shots fired” at Spaulding Avenue about five minutes after the men left Chuck E. Cheese. However, the suspect and victim had disappeared. Shell casings were found by the police who blocked the road.
A few minutes later, Advocate Christ Hospital reported that a 26 year old man was in the emergency room with a gun shot wound to his lip. Police investigators went to the hospital and the victim told them he “had just left Chuck E. Cheese’s” at 4031 W. 95th St. in Oak Lawn and was driving east on 95th when the suspect traveling in a black Jeep heading started shooting at him.
The longest serving Trustee in Oak Lawn, Robert Streit, has taken a leadership role in calling for a hearing on the license revocation for Chuck E. Cheese. However, with the exception of one other Trustee, the other board members have refused to take any action. Now, that sentiment may be changing after the latest incident on Saturday night.
Shortly after word broke on social media, Streit renewed his call for a hearing on the business license:
We have a special responsibility to ensure the safety of residents and to maintain OL’s reputation for being a safe place for children and families to dine and be entertained. Tragically, this has been a deteriorating situation for several years now culminating in this violent act. And, for whatever reason this administration has simply refused to take any real action preferring to form more committees. We have to be proactive in removing any business that attracts criminal elements and activity that endangers are citizens.
Chuck E. Cheese has been averaging forty 911 calls for police emergencies for the last five years and has over fifty this year alone. Streit has made several public calls, including a motion at the village board table, to hold a public hearing.
WBBM News Radio 78 has contacted village officials for comment. As of 5 p.m. on Sunday, only Streit had spoken publicly to the news media. Trustee Alex Olejniczak has also supported the idea of a revocation hearing.
The decision to hold a public hearing comes as a surprise since four Trustees and the Mayor have cautioned against taking action. Trustee Terry Vorderer previously garnered the support of Mayor Sandra Bury and Trustees Tim Desmond, William ‘Bud’ Stalker and Michael Carberry to form a citizens committee to review safety issues at the establishment. The citizen committee was scheduled to meet this week and the meeting was abruptly canceled by Vorderer.
Trustee Streit said that Mayor Bury’s startling admission several months ago regarding the hundreds of 911 police emergency calls to the establishment made him an earlier believer in taking action. “While the Mayor hasn’t shown us the records for the 911 calls, I take her at her word that the calls occurred, that a serious problem exists and that the attorney has provided an opinion that we can revoke the license based on the evidence cited by the Mayor.
Several months ago, Mayor Bury appeared on NBC 5 News and spoke about a possible revocation.
NBC 5 News Video
Since that interview with NBC, however, and another one on WLS AM, the Mayor has backtracked failing to support the revocation idea when raised by Streit and then Olejniczak.
Chuck E. Cheese has had several incidents inside the facility, prior to the drive by shooting Saturday night that actually took place in Evergreen Park. In 2011, the Oak Lawn police issued a village ordinance violation citation to a man who urinated in front of the building.
In February of 2012, seven women and one man were arrested for disorderly conduct following a fight inside the establishment.
In October of 2012, one mom began swinging her fists at other parents who were criticizing her child’s behavior at a party.
The most serious offense involved an admitted gang member from Chicago who was targeted by two gunmen outside the establishment and lived to tell about it. At that time, then Village Trustee pushed forward reforms along with Mayor Dave Hielmann that forced the entertainment center to increase its rules of conduct.
In February of 2013, a man was in a fight with two women and the women were charged with battery.
Another fight broke out in May of 2014 when four men were charged with disorderly conduct after a disturbance was caused at the salad bar.
The company has previously voluntarily surrendered its liquor license. Trustee Vorderer apparently has had a change of heart. After vehemently defending his own failure to vote for revocation at two recent meetings, he told NBC 5 News last night that “enough is enough”. He did say that revocation of a license is not as easy as just saying it is revoked.
Streit said late Monday evening that he doesn’t know why Vorderer changed his mind and now apparently supports revocation. At past meetings, Vorderer has said he was working with the advice of the Village Attorney in suggesting to not revoke.
“I assume he now has a legal opinion that says that the village will prevail in a license revocation hearing and subsequent court challenge,” said Streit. He said that he has not seen any opinion yet from the Village Attorney himself. “Terry has said he was working with the attorney during the last two months so I’m hoping he did ask for that legal opinion,” stated Streit.
In 2013, at a board meeting, former Mayor Dave Heilmann referred to a legal memo that was prepared on similar issues. Streit said that moving to revoke the license is only the first step and the village must be prepared to prosecute the case competently and must make sure all of the evidence cited by the Mayor, regarding the 911 emergency calls, is “rock solid”.