Brighton Park Memorial Mass Shooting Claims Lives of Brother, Sister

On Sunday, Adriana Williams and her brother Michael stopped at a makeshift memorial for a friend gunned down hours earlier on a street in Brighton Park.

On Monday, a new memorial went up, this one for the brother and sister, 24 and 27 years old.

They were killed and eight other people were wounded when two men with rifles stepped from an alley around 5:20 p.m. Sunday and opened fire at a group of mourners standing around a heart-shaped balloon and candles near West 46thPlace and South Rockwell Street. The group was mourning the loss of 26-year-old Daniel Cordova, who was shot and killed about 13 hours earlier, near the same spot.

“They were just coming to pay their respects,” said Willie Glover Jr., the eldest of six siblings, including Adriana and Michael. “You expect people to respect that.”

Just before 3 a.m. Cordova took to Facebook Live, sitting in a parked car, bragging about how he stays out on the streets. Among the taunts he hurled in a roughly 8-minute video were saying, you “know I’m out here, day and night, creeping,” and that he was “waiting for somebody to come through.”

As music blared behind him, he used language threatening the “opp,” or opposition, and said he was posted on a block, solo, and that he was out there every day.

“Always have been, always will be,” he said.

Cordova was killed about 4:30 a.m. Sunday. Police said they found his body between two parked cars.

“The (guy) that got killed is close friends with my brother and sister,” Glover said. “You know, it wasn’t about who they are, it was more like just targeting anybody that was out there to gather for him. They trying to pay their respects and they get murdered. That’s crazy.”

Glover moved to Freeport and away from his siblings about 15 years ago, he said, and they grew apart the way family sometimes does when everyone is grown and spread out. And he knew his family members lived in a rough neighborhood where gang violence was prevalent. He didn’t say his siblings were in a gang, but said: “I know they live around a lot of gangs, there’s a lot of gun violence where they live.”

Still, Glover never expected to hear two of his siblings were gunned down.

“They was real good people. They was very loved people. A lot of people really loved them,” he said.

Glover said his little sister was a small woman whose size belied her strength and huge personality. She left behind three kids, who have recently been in the custody of the state, he said. She was doing everything she could to get her kids back, he said

His little brother showed tremendous aptitude in math and reading and made great grades in school, Glover said. He had two kids of his own.

“Michael, he was just always a good kid, he liked to play basketball, he liked to dress in real nice clothes. When he was younger, I never thought him to be the type to be around this type of environment. He was just trying to be a good father to his kids,” Glover said.

Lisa Vargas, who roomed with Adriana and was friends with Michael, said one of her daughters was really close with Adriana.

“It hits hard,” said Vargas. “I was sitting here telling my daughter, ‘You could have been right there with her.’ Because she goes with her everywhere. She was always with her.”
As she talked, friends tied yellow smiley-faced balloons on a wrought-iron fence across the sidewalk from the two-story brick home in Little Village where Adriana lived.

They passed around a black marker and took turns scrawling messages on the balloons. “We Love You” and “R.I.P. Adriana.” They lit religious candles near a small pot of roses.

Their deaths are “something you don’t know how to face,” said another friend, Roselee Lopez.

Word of Cordova’s shooting spread on Facebook, and Vargas remembers Adriana “freaking out.”

“She was just like, ‘Nah, it wasn’t him. It can’t be him,'” Vargas said. “And I said, ‘Yeah, it was him.’ ”

As friends gathered at the memorial, police warned them they could be the targets of more gang gunfire. It wasn’t long afterward that the gunmen appeared.

Michael Williams died at the scene and Adriana died at Stroger Hospital, officials said.

The eight injured included six men and two women: a 25-year-old man shot in the right hip and right elbow and in good condition at Mount Sinai Hospital; a 26-year-old man shot in the right leg, in good condition at Stroger; a 23-year-old man shot in the right leg, in good condition at Stroger; a 26-year-old man shot in the right leg, in good condition at Stroger; a 26-year-old man shot in both ankles, in good condition at Stroger; a 19-year-old woman shot in the leg, in good condition at Mount Sinai Hospital; a 25-year-old woman shot in the right arm, in good condition at Stroger; a 23-year-old man with injuries to his leg, in good condition at Stroger.

Police say both shootings on Sunday were done by two men with rifles.

In February, the Tribune reported that four gangs in Brighton Park and Back of the Yards on the South Side were increasingly using rifles. Police said this area was the only one in the city where rifles styled after AR-15s and AK-47s were regularly used, a menacing new development in the gang fights.

At the time, more than 30 shootings believed to have been tied to semi-automatic rifles occurred in the two neighborhoods over the previous nine months. At least 46 people were shot in those attacks, 13 fatally.

Sunday’s shootings came five days after two Deering District tactical officers were struck by rifle fire in Back of the Yards, southeast of Brighton Park. Police said investigators so far don’t believe the officers’ shooting is related to what happened over the weekend.

However, officers in the area were warned Monday about a “heightened presence” of gang members armed with “numerous” military-style rifles capable of piercing bullet-proof vests.

In an alert broadcast over police radio channels, officers were told to “expect a heightened presence of Satan Disciples — that’s an increase in activity for SD (Satan Disciples) in connection with the shootings yesterday at 46/ Rockwell.

“Also be aware that this gang is in possession of numerous military-style rifles that are capable of piercing police protection,” it added.

Deputy Police Chief Kevin Ryan told reporters Sunday night that investigators “have a fairly good idea who we’re looking for. We have a fairly good idea of the conflict involved. And right now we’re trying to saturate the area.”

Vargas said Michael Williams worked in a cookie factory. The last time she saw him alive was earlier Sunday when he was at a Cinco de Mayo parade along Cermak Road in Little Village. Continue Reading

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