Staria Campbell, wife of murder victim Michael Guyton, talks about her husband's death and their children outside of her apartment Thursday.
One man was sitting in a car near a corner where drugs are sold every day. Another man may have quarreled with an acquaintance before someone pulled a gun. And yet another man was with friends in a parked car when a group walked up beside them on the sidewalk.
Within about an hour around midnight Wednesday, three men died—and two others were wounded—in three shootings in the Austin neighborhood, yet another flash of street violence in a summer that has seen murders increasing in Chicago after five years of decline.
At about 11:45 p.m., Michael Guyton, 27, was shot dead in the 4900 block of West Hubbard Street after an altercation, police officials said. The wife of the father of four said they had argued with an acquaintance after the person had defaulted on a car loan she had co-signed. Police did not offer further information about that investigation Thursday evening.
A few minutes later, about seven blocks away, three men were sitting in a parked car in the 800 block of North Lorel Avenue when a group of men passed by on the sidewalk, police said. One of the men on foot opened fire on the car, striking three people, including Greg Jones, 23, who was fatally shot in the back.
And just before 1 a.m. Thursday, shots rang out in the 500 block of North Central Avenue. David Montgomery was found dead as he sat in a parked car, a bullet wound in the head, police said.
The police "need to crack down on these guns in the street," said Staria Campbell, Guyton's wife. "All the killing is senseless, and I hate it."
While the Austin area has one of the heaviest concentrations of drug dealing in the city, partly because of its proximity to the Eisenhower Expressway and the suburbs, the Austin Police District typically has fewer murders than some of its neighboring districts. Through June there had been 10 murders in the district, the same as in the first six months of 2007. By comparison, the Harrison District, immediately to the east, had 17 through June, while the Ogden District, which includes part of Lawndale and Little Village, also had 17 slayings.
Ernestine Brooks, 47, lives in the 4900 block of West Hubbard with her grandfather just steps from where Guyton was shot. She said her grandfather was robbed at gunpoint early Thursday morning as he went to withdraw money from an ATM. Street violence is a constant threat, she said.
"Every night I hear gunfire," said Brooks who has lived in the Austin neighborhood her entire life. "I wait till it stops, then I go see if somebody got shot and if I need to call the ambulance. I'm not scared because God protects me. He's the only person who can."
Guyton's neighbors learned of his slaying Thursday morning when they found his wife sitting in the staircase of their apartment building doubled over in grief, said Fatima Tolbert.
"We all were pretty shocked," Tolbert said. "He was a good guy. We saw him every day with his kids."
The couple moved into the apartment building months ago, neighbors said. Guyton was often out on his porch watching his four children play in the back of their building with the other children. "I feel so sorry for the kids upstairs," Tolbert said "They were so close to their father."
Tolbert said protecting her own family from the violence in the neighborhood is a full-time job. She said she doesn't let her kids play outside and said she even goes to parties with them to monitor the surroundings.
"I'm the parent in the middle of the party standing out like I don't belong," said Tolbert, who has five children. "What else can you do? You can't stop them from being kids. You can't lock them up."
David Montgomery's family also was grieving for the young man they called "Junior."
"He didn't deserve none of this," said Tim Montgomery, 22, who added that his cousin often "would tell me to be cool and to get my stuff together."
On the block of Central Avenue where he was killed, the aftermath of the shooting had offered a brief respite from the flagrant open-air drug dealing that usually goes on, said John Neff, 51, who manages apartment buildings in the area.
"Suburban people line up on this street to buy their drugs, then they hop on the expressway and go back to their cozy homes." Neff said. "Today the line isn't there because the police are out."