Month: December 2015

ABC 7: Man Charged With Murder In Melrose Park Shooting


WLS: A 21-year-old man was killed and a 14-year-old boy was critically wounded in a shooting in west suburban Melrose Park.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015 || Originally Published: ABC 7 || 5:47 PM 

MELROSE PARK, Ill. (WLS) — A man has been charged in connection with a shooting that killed one person and injured another in Melrose Park, police said.

Police say Ellezer Torres, 22, allegedly fired at two victims seated in a vehicle in the 1100-block of 24th Avenue around 12:32 a.m. Tuesday. One victim died as a result of gunshot wounds; the other victim is in stable condition after being hospitalized with multiple gunshot wounds to the back.

Police say the victims may have known the offender prior to the incident.

A bond hearing has been set for Thursday at 9 a.m. in Maywood. VFP

From Maywood To The Ivy League: The Stratospheric Ambitions of Marquan Jones

Marquan Jones II

Marquan Jones IWednesday, December 30, 2015 || By Nicholas Samuel || Updated: 6:08 PM

Marquan Jones, a senior at Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy, cried as he was recognized in front of thousands at a local basketball game Monday night for being accepted into Cornell University, an American private Ivy League school in Ithaca, New York.

The audience cheered and clapped as an announcer listed Jones’s credentials, which include his status as a three-sport athlete and as an inductee into the National Honor Society.

“When they started reading off the things I did, it was like waterworks. My mom was consoling me,” Jones said. “I always told my mom how I would do all of these amazing things. To actually accomplish those are amazing.”

The crowd gave Jones, 18, a standing ovation as he stood in the center of the basketball court at the 2015 Proviso West Holiday Tournament at Proviso West High School in Hillside. He was joined at center court by his mother Chanicka Jones, his father Eric Jones, his brother Jalen Jones, 12, and his sister Ericka Jones, 7.

“I had my whole family there with me, was able to show my family to the world and how much of a support system I have,” said Jones, who lives in Maywood. “I got my name out there and earned the support of thousands of alumni. That’s greater value than any plaque or monetary reward.”

Chanicka said she’s very proud of her son and that this is the first of his many accomplishments.

“When he was in second grade, he always said he wanted to go to an Ivy League school. He even said he wanted to be president,” Chanicka said. “It’s really an indescribable feeling. I always knew he had it in him.”

Dr. Patrick Hardy, principal of Proviso East High School in Maywood and Theresa Kelly, board president for Proviso Township High Schools District 209 also joined Jones at center court for his moment of recognition.

Jones, who holds a 4.714 GPA at PMSA, plans to attend Cornell University next Fall and major in Food Science. He wants to mentor kids on financial literacy and how to keep a healthy diet.

The 18-year-old is a member of the debate and theater clubs at PMSA, but plays basketball, football and track at Proviso East since those sports aren’t offered at PMSA. He’s captain of the varsity track team and co-captain of the varsity football team.

Scottie Ware, who coached Jones in track, football and basketball for all four years of high school, said Jones has as much tenacity for athletics as he has for the books.

He said the 18-year-old has a great deal of drive and determination, and is a great example for kids who will come behind him.

“His nickname is ‘5.0,’ because that’s normally what his GPA was,” Ware said. “I want the entire Proviso Township to realize that kids can make it out and go to Ivy League schools.”

Ware, who has coached sports at Proviso East for 12 years, said the high school has had students in the past who have applied to Ivy League schools, but that Jones is the first to be accepted to one.

“Marquan was very coachable and very respectful. He wasn’t the most athletic, but hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard; he’s an example of that,” Ware said. “I look forward to the day when we put his picture up on the wall of fame at the school. Marquan will be the next one to hit that wall.”

Jones helped lead East’s track team to fourth place at the West Suburban Gold Conference meet last year. He said he prides himself in being a renaissance man.

“I know a lot of kids that have higher GPA’s than me, but it’s like they’re robots that just sit in the room all day and do nothing but their homework,” Jones said. “When you spend all of your time on one thing, you’re going to be good only at that one thing. The real challenge is being good at multiple things.”

Jones said his parents instilled in him that they would support him in anything he does.

“If I didn’t like sports, they would support that,” Jones said. “They want to teach me how to think, not what to think. From that I found my own passion and will to be successful. One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon.’ Make sure you question everything; just because something is like this in the world doesn’t mean it has to be. You can change it.” VFP

A previous version of this article incorrectly noted that Jones led his track team to second place at the West Suburban Gold Conference meet, instead of fourth. This post has since been updated. We regret the error. 

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Twenty Proviso East Students Named To ‘Straight A Club’



Proviso East Principal Dr. Patrick Hardy congratulates a member of the Straight A Club. Left, more members of the club pose for a photo. | Proviso Township High Schools District 209

Wednesday, December 30, 2015 || Originally Published: Proviso Township High School District 209 || 12/11/15

Twenty Proviso East High School students were named to the school’s Straight A Club as a result of earning straight A’s in all of their classes during the first quarter.

The students were recognized in a special ceremony in the Proviso East auditorium on December 4. In the ceremony, each student were given a certificate and a letter of commendation. They also were treated to lunch at the school.

The Straight A Club is a new group designed to encourage students who earn straight A’s in a quarter or semester to continue to do so and inspire others to follow suit, said Ms. Paula Howard, a freshman guidance counselor at Proviso East. She said the group, formed in part with other guidance counselors along with Dr. Patrick Hardy, principal at Proviso East, and Mr. Fred Aguirre, assistant principal for student supports at Proviso East, was a way to appreciate the students for their efforts and achievement.

“This is the quarter, but we want them to maintain those A’s right through the semester and keep that mentality and encourage other students,” Ms. Howard said. “They are a great example to all of Proviso.”

Dr. Hardy said that he was proud of the students for their achievement and he encouraged them to continue to work hard and be good role models for their classmates.

“This group of students represent some of the best that Proviso East High School has to offer,” he said. “We are proud of them, and I hope to continue to add to their number.”

Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, superintendent of District 209, said that the students should be proud of their achievement as well.

“These students have made us very proud,” said Dr. Collins-Hart. “They have worked hard this year to demonstrate academic excellence, responsibility, and accountability, and I want to encourage each of our students to continue to achieve and to focus on their goals.”

The honored students said that they felt appreciated for their hard work.

“I feel extremely appreciative that Proviso East would decide to do this because it just makes you want to strive for excellence and want to continue to just strive to get good grades and influence my other peers to want to get good grades as well,” said Ashanti Kelly, a Proviso East sophomore.

Dalal El Barbarawi, a Proviso East senior, said that recognition and admiration are key factors in a student’s success. However, she said that she and the other honored students need to continue hard to achieve.

“Attending this ceremony and receiving praise for our achievements is truly an honor,” she said. “However, this award should not act as a relief, but rather as a way of telling us to continue to do our best.”

The following students were honored as new members of the Proviso East Straight A Club:

Regine Bowman

Marshaun Campbell

Liliana Corral

Melissa Espinoza

Jaime Medina

Lesly Sanchez

Marquise Sumerlin

Keyanna Turner

Alice Villalva

Lesly Cepeda

Justice Fowler

Ashanti Kelly

Daisy Rodriguez

Karen Davila

Dalal El Barbarawi

Madly Espinoza

Liliana Garcia

MyLeah Matheny

Miguel Ortiz-Jaramillo

Kenia Ridley VFP

PMSA Ranked Among Top 25 IL High Schools In Recent Ranking

PMSATuesday, December 29, 2015 || By Michael Romain 

SchoolDigger, which assesses the academic performance of elementary, middle and high schools in the state, has ranked Proviso Math and Science Academy (PMSA) among the top 25 high schools in the state.

The rankings were heavily based on the schools’ performances on the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).

This year was the first in which students took the test, which is meant to align with the new Common Core curriculum.

“As with any school ranking, it’s important to remember this is not a definitive list,” SchoolDigger notes. “Rankings vary depending on the methodology used, and standardized test scores arguably shouldn’t be the sole indicator of a good school — especially since many ‘elite schools‘ known for their academics struggled in the first year of PARCC testing.”

PMSA ranked 11th among the state’s high schools, up from 16th last year.

Meanwhile, “Proviso Township High Schools District 209 has been named to the sixth annual AP District Honor Roll for increasing access to Advanced Placement course work while maintaining or increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher on AP Exams,” according to a district release.

To read more on this distinction, click hereVFP

Man Charged With DUI After Hillside Crash

Marcell Johnson

Marcell Johnson | Cook County

Wednesday, December 30, 2015 || Originally Published:  ABC 7 || 12/27/15 || By Sun Times Media Wire 

Homicides In Maywood Double The Rate Of Previous Years, While Property Crimes Are Down

Maywood Police Station Exterior

Tuesday, December 29, 2015 || By Nicholas Samuel || Updated: 12/30/15

As of November of this year, the Maywood Police Department reported 13 homicides for 2015, compared to seven homicides each year for 2014, 2013 and 2012, according to information released by the department.

Maywood Police Chief Valdimir Talley Jr. said the marked increase in the homicide rates is largely due to criminals being released from federal, state and local detention facilities.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that’s the reason. These individuals get released from prison, but we don’t have services set up for those people to become productive citizens of society,” Talley said during a recent interview.

“You have a lot of people being released from prison with that influx of individuals who’ve previously committed crimes and need to find employment. When people can’t find meaningful employment, they turn to other methods.”

Talley said that a majority of the crimes are related to gang activity.

“The gang culture acts on retaliation. If something happens to a member by a rival gang, they avenge him by retaliating,” Talley said.

The police chief said he doesn’t know why that exists and that kids should learn conflict resolution in school.

“When I was a youth, we would get into a fight, somebody would win and somebody would lose and we would be able to talk it out and move on. I don’t think that exists in the gang culture.”

Despite the uptick in homicides, however, the village has experienced an overall decrease in certain crimes, such as aggravated battery, burglary, theft and robbery over the past few years.

As of November 2015, the Maywood Police Department reported 103 cases of aggravated battery this year, compared to 108 in 2014, 93 in 2013 and 119 in 2012.

MPD also reported 193 cases of burglary in 2015, compared to 207 in 2014, 295 in 2013 and 397 in 2012.

For theft, 284 cases were reported in 2015, compared to 365 in 2014, 447 in 2013 and 489 in 2012.

For robberies, 71 cases were reported in 2015, compared to 82 in 2014, 90 in 2013 and 94 in 2012.

Talley said, with the holiday season now in full effect, residents should be cautious when shopping at local stores.

“You can almost anticipate that crime will happen because of the holiday season,” Talley said. “Don’t leave packages in your car, lock your doors, walk in groups and limit your cash flow.”

Crime statistics for 2015 didn’t include cases that have happened in December. VFP

Correction: This post has been updated to omit a statement that was attributed to Chief Talley, but that misstated what he, in fact, said. A previous article noted that Talley said that the police didn’t have crime under control. This was not what was said. The Village Free Press regrets this error. 

1 Dead, 1 Injured In Dec. 29 Melrose Park Shooting

Tuesday, December 29, 2015 || Originally Published: FOX 32 || By Anita Padilla

Police are investigating after two people were reportedly shot in Melrose Park early Tuesday morning.

The shooting happened just before 1 a.m. Tuesday morning near Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church at 24th and Augusta.

FOX 32 News has learned one person was killed and another was injured in the shooting. Family members identified the deceased victim as 21-year-old Francisco Diaz.

The injured victim has not yet been identified.

Diaz was a father of three who was engaged to be married.

A witness at the scene told FOX 32 News the shooting might be gang related. The Cook County Sheriff’s Department is assisting Melrose Park Police in the investigation. VFP