Category Archives: Police and Fire

Remembering Berwyn Resident Peter Fabbri

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Pictured: Peter Michael Fabbri, 54. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

By Melissa Rohman

Berwyn resident Peter Fabbri was more than just another crime statistic to his family and friends. He was born on December 18, 1961. He was a family man and a hard worker. He was the father to two adult daughters.

“Stand up, loving, caring; he’d always do anything to be there for you,” said Joe Fabbri, 47, to describe his oldest brother Peter. “He’s always been there, he’s always been a worker. He worked all his life.”

Peter Fabbri, 54, was shot dead at the northeast corner of East Monroe St. and South Michigan Ave. near Millennium Park at about 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 24 by gang member Paul Pagan, 32, after an argument that occurred between Pagan and Fabbri, the Chicago police department reported. Continue reading

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Pre-trial for Cicero murderer continues

By Elisa Juliano

Erick M. Maya. Photo courtesy of Will County's Sheriff Office.

Erick M. Maya. Photo courtesy of Will County’s Sheriff Office.

The pre-trial of Erick M. Maya of Cicero will continue on May 23 at 9:30 at the Will County Courthouse.

Maya’s, of the 5600 block of Park Avenue, pre-trial began on April 15. Maya is being represented by a public defender.

Maya was charged on March 18 with shooting a woman and her daughter outside of their home in Romeoville, Il.

The daughter Briana Valle, 15, was in a relationship with Maya prior to the shooting. The couple allegedly met in 2012 on Facebook.

Valle was pronounced dead on Feb. 17 at  Loyola University Medical Center. Valle died from sustained a gunshot injury to the head.

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7th Annual Wellness Fair

By Elisa Juliano

Heritage Middle School’s gym was buzzing with many adults and children attending the 7th Annual Wellness Fair on March 13.

The fair had many exhibition booths and lots of free give aways. McNeal Hospital, the YMCA, the Berwyn Police Department, the Berwyn Fire Department and many other organizations participated in the fair.

In addition to visiting the many exhibits, attendees were also able to participate in numerous activities ranging from relaxing massages to adrenaline pumping exercises.

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Memorial expected to attract 50,000 to Berwyn

By Elisa Juliano

Photo courtesy of Berwyn Park District.

Photo courtesy of Berwyn Park District.

This summer the Berwyn Park District expects many will flock to Berwyn to see “The Moving Wall” on display at Proska Park.

“Through our marketing efforts the number that has been thrown around is 50,000 people,” said Hillary Fulara, a recreational programmer for Proska Park.

According to Fulara, Aurora hosted the wall in November and received over 150,000 visitors.

“The Moving Wall” has been touring the county for almost 30 years and is a half-size replica of the Veterans Vietnam Memorial located in Washington, D.C.

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Identity thefts hit Berwyn

There have been seven reported identify thefts in Berwyn since Dec. 3. Sgt. Joe Santangelo said these cases are currently under investigation.

Santangelo gave tips on how to avoid being a victim of identity theft. Never throw away credit cards without first shredding them. Be careful about what information you save onto the internet; don’t save your social  security number or passwords on any web page.

“You can check your banking website regularly to watch your accounts,” Santangelo said. “There are also trusted websites that do a free credit check to monitor your accounts.”

Two of the seven identity thefts occurred on the 2200 block of S. Kenilworth. Two more occurred on S. Euclid. Other cases occurred on Harvey, Elmwood and Grove.

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Berwyn boys receive recognition

Julian Garcia (left) and Nathan Rodriguez (right)

Julian Garcia (left) and Nathan Rodriguez (right)

Mayor Lovero presented honorable mentions to Julian Garcia and Nathan Rodriguez for taking action to save a woman’s life on Halloween.

On Halloween night, the two friends visited a house in the 3700 block of Harvey Avenue. They knocked, but only heard barking dogs. The back door was open, so they looked inside and saw the woman laying on her basement floor at the bottom of the stairs. They immediately ran to alert their parents who called the authorities.

The woman, in her late 60s, said she had fallen down the stairs three days before and hadn’t moved since, according to MySuburbanLife.com. She had a cervical fracture and was treated for hypothermia.

“I am very glad of myself,” Rodriguez said after receiving awards. Garcia quickly agreed, “Me, too!”

Garcia and Rodriguez  are third-graders at Pershing School.

“The community is our eyes and ears, and these guys did a great job. We thank them,” said Police Chief James Ritz. 

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Cermak Plaza Collision of Two

By: Jonathan Salamanca

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At about 11:30 p.m. a woman driving a Honda Civic LX southbound on Harlem Avenue was hit by a driver in a Toyota 4runner driving eastbound on 23rd, from the North Riverside shopping center.

The two drivers met at the intersection of Harlem and 23rd after the eastbound car passed a red light crossing Harlem. The driver in the Honda was making a left turn onto 23rd road.  Both were turning into the Cermak Plaza and injured on impact. The woman driving the Honda Civic LX was hospitalized.

“I didn’t even know until I saw all the motion and ambulances outside. I was just out to shop. It was bad, really bad–windows shattered. People just don’t stop.” Pedro Garcia, a witness at the incident, said.

The condition of both drivers is unknown. Berwyn police did not comment on the accident.

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Berwyn reports Santa-napping

By Nicole Foley

The children don’t have to watch out; they can cry and pout as much as they want because after Santa and his reindeer were stolen off a lawn in Berwyn, this Santa may not be visiting with presents this year.

This past Monday at 5:50 p.m. Christmas lawn ornaments were reported stolen from the 3500 block of South Grove Avenue home in Berwyn.  The family had a 3-foot Santa in a 10-foot long sleigh with two reindeer attached.

“The decorations were not small and must have taken some time to take away,” said Chief Jim Ritz of the Berwyn Police Dept.  “We asked the neighbors but no one seemed to see anything unusual that day.”

No one has been charged with the theft yet, but police are keeping watch for anything similar that may happen in the neighborhood.

“Since there’s no cameras around there we have no leads about who did it, for all we know it was a prank by some teenage kids, but we’re keeping our eyes out just in case it happens again,” said Ritz.

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Berwyn biker on life support

By: Anthony Garcia

After being involved in a biking accident on Dec. 3 around 5 p.m., a Berwyn bike rider remains in critical condition and is on life

Berwyn police investigate the scene of a serious bicyclist accident at the intersection of 26st., and East Ave., in Berwyn, Monday, Dec. 3, 2012.      (Courtesy of Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune)

Berwyn police investigate the scene of a serious bicyclist accident at the intersection of 26st., and East Ave., in Berwyn, Monday, Dec. 3, 2012. (Courtesy of Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune)

support at Loyola University Life Hospital. Justin Carver was struck by a truck at the intersection of 26th and East Ave. as he attempted to cross 26th while the truck

simultaneously made a left turn off of East Ave. Carver was brought into Loyola’s Trauma Center unconscious according to Berwyn fire officials. Continue reading

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Shhhh!… No more noise

By Nicole Foley

Living in a city most people expect there to be a lot of noise, but Berwyn has put an end to this assumption with a noise ordinance, banning unnecessary and unusual noises from vehicles.

The Berwyn police started enforcing the ordinance recently.

“The ordinance was put into effect because of the number of people that would drive the street blasting their stereos,” said Police Chief Jim Ritz. “They would do it at all times of the day, including late at night when people are trying to sleep.” Continue reading

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City of Berwyn pays for firefighter tuition reimbursement

By Rene Howard-Paez

They carry people out of buildings, put out large fires, investigate arson, and now some of them are going back to school. Berwyn firefighters are taking college courses to get advanced degrees in fire science or fire service management.

This past year the Fire Department asked for $47,600 in the city budget to cover tuition reimbursement.

This is just over three times the amount that was requested the previous year.

According to Berwyn Fire Chief Denis O’Halloran, four more firefighters are attending school this year.

“Firefighters have the opportunity to go back to school to earn advanced degrees,” O’Hallaran said.

Advanced degrees in fire science and fire service management are offered at various local colleges and universities including Triton College, Moraine Valley Community College, College of DuPage, Lewis University and Morton College.

The Berwyn firefighters are going to various schools to take advantage of the reimbursement opportunity. Continue reading

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A new definition of “Dog Tag”

By Nicole Foley

Storefront walls, alley gangways, vacant buildings, and now – dogs? Gangs are known for displaying their signs in public places to declare their name and territory, and recently they found a new way of doing so.

On Halloween, in the neighborhood streets of Berwyn, a pit bull was found wandering the streets with a gang tag spray painted onto him. A nearby resident called animal control to have it removed. When animal control found the dog they contacted the police right away, having found an odd symbol that had been recently spray painted onto the side of the dog, according to resident Jessica Stricken. The police arrived on the scene and identified the symbol as a gang sign, she said.

“It’s not unusual for there to be cops around, especially on Halloween, but when I saw a pit bull sitting in the middle of all the chaos I wanted to know what happened,” she said Stricken came out to see what the commotion was about because she could see that an animal was involved.

“They made sure to keep that side of the dog facing them. I guess they didn’t want us to see (the gang sign),” said Stricken, who did not know what symbol was on the dog.

Berwyn police could not be reached for comment on the incident.

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Berwyn man awaits Court Hearing

By Jackie Glosniak

A Berwyn man charged with obstructing a police officer will have a hearing at the Maybrook Circuit Courthouse in Maywood on Wednesday, Dec. 12.

32-year-old Francisco J. Torres of the 1500 block of Cuyler Ave. faces one count of obstruction to a peace officer following a report of a man waving a gun at 16th St. and Cuyler Ave. early morning on Sunday Nov. 11.

As police arrived on the scene, Torres began to walk away, reaching into his pockets to pull out what allegedly looked like a black object. After an attempt at tasing the man, he was wrestled to the ground and placed in handcuffs. Officers found the object in Torres’ pocket to be a black leather money clip. No gun was found on either Torres or in the vehicle he had been a passenger in.

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Recent Fires Empasize Importance of Fire Safety

By Jackie Glosniak

As the weather grows colder in Berwyn, firefighters are worrying about the increased fire risk as more people stay indoors and try potentially unsafe ways to keep warm.

“People are not spending as much time outdoors, and are using fireplaces, supplemental electrical components such as space heaters, and overusing extension cords for TVs and other things to entertain themselves,” said Berwyn Fire Chief Denis O’Halloran.

The increasing risk comes after a busier than usual October, with four house fires occurring at the end of the month.

Angelica Landa of the 3600 block of Oak Park Ave. is wary about fire danger after an exploding water heater caused a fire in her house years ago.

“I have two smoke alarms as well as a fire extinguisher underneath my sink in the kitchen,” she said. “I also have emergency contact numbers available both in my cell phone and posted in my kitchen.”

O’Halloran also has suggestions to avoid fires during the winter months and holiday season. Continue reading

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Berwyn Sheds Light on Domestic Abuse

By Jackie Glosniak

A recent shooting in Berwyn has led authorities to urge residents to be vigilant about the signs of domestic abuse, and to take action when they see it.

Earlier this month, a suicide and attempted murder struck the North Berwyn community. During the early morning hours on Oct. 5, a man shot and wounded a woman before killing himself in a home in the 1300 block of Home Avenue. When Berwyn Police arrived at the scene, they found two victims bleeding from their faces.

Juan Quezada, 35, of Westchester, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the mouth and was pronounced dead on the scene. Before turning the gun on himself, Quezada shot his 30-year-old wife. The woman, whose name was not released, was immediately taken to an area hospital, but had no life-threatening injuries.

At the time of the shooting, the two victims were separated. The wife had recently moved to Berwyn with her three young sons-all under the age of 10. The sons were sleeping during the shooting and were not harmed.

According to Berwyn Police Commander James Sassetti, the police had not received any prior phone calls from the house or from neighbors suspecting trouble. No neighbors had reported seeing anything suspicious in the month that the mother and her sons had lived in the house, he said.

Berwyn Mayor Robert Lovero said domestic abuse is a perennial issue. Continue reading

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Metal thieves target vacant Berwyn homes

Home broken into located on 1422 Gunderson

By: Lavell Garner

Stealing copper and other metals, but as of late it has become more of a problem in the city of Berwyn with increased home foreclosures. And Berwyn authorities are taking measures to control it.

On Oct. 11, three suspects were detained for breaking and entering into a vacant home located on 1422 Gunderson Avenue. Continue reading

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Barking Dog ordinance still in committee

By: Rene Howard-Paez

The Berwyn city council has taken no action on a barking dog ordinance more than six months after it was originally proposed.

According to City Council minutes, the ordinance, which would fine residents who allow their dogs to bark for excessive periods of time, was originally proposed by Fourth Ward Alderman Michele Skryd on March 13.

The matter was referred to the Business License and Taxation committee, with a recommendation to invite a representative from the Police Department.  And that’s where it’s stayed, according to City Clerk Thomas Pavlik.

“The matter was referred to the business license committee and no action has been taken, it is still in committee.”

This ordinance is modeled after a similar ordinance that was passed in Los Angeles.

The fines would start at $250 and work up to $1,000 with the third offense.

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Berwyn Schools Serve Safety First

By: Nicole Foley

Cops are cracking down on traffic near school.    For the past three years  Berwyn has been working with the city to tighten its traffic regulations around both grade and high schools to keep children safer.

Police Lt James Sassetti said that the traffic regulations are “precautionary action towards making things better”  and not a reaction to any accidents or problems.

Police officers are now on schools grounds regulating traffic every morning and afternoon when the children are coming and going from school, according to Sassatti and city Traffic Engineer Nicole Campbell.  They are stopping traffic at crosswalks  and walking with the children in the middle of roads, areas some parents consider to be “common drop off zones” said Sassetti.

In addition the South Berwyn school district has changed several streets near schools from two-way streets to one-way streets.  This helps condense general traffic around the schools and allows children to know which way they needed to always look.

Police  officers enforce traffic laws more strictly around the school zones, rigorously ticketing speeders and  giving out tickets to double parked drivers or those parked in zones specially used for drop-offs and pick-ups, Sassetti said.

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Initiatives to Stop the Crimes

By Jackie Glosniak

With the interesting mix of crimes Berwyn has experienced in the past month, police want to ensure that the public is safe and encourage residents to participate in Neighborhood Watch.

During past few weeks, the suburb has seen a restaurant robbery, a mugging at gunpoint, and several arrests for guns and drugs.

  • On Aug. 21, three men robbed Lolita’s Mexican Food at 6320 Ogden Ave., but escaped with only a small amount of money.
  • On  Aug. 29 and Aug. 30, three separate arrests took place for drug and weapon crimes. One man was arrested for selling two handguns along with 729 grams of cocaine with a street value around $219,000 to undercover officers. Two other men were arrested for selling 600 grams and 450 grams of marijuana to undercover officers and also charged with growing and delivery of the substance. These men were targeted by Berwyn Police and Cook County Sheriff’s deputies in a months-long street gang investigation, according to the Berwyn Police Department.
  • On Sept. 2, two men robbed a Berwyn mat at gunpoint near 27th St. and Harvey Ave., taking the $1,119 the victim was taking to pay his rent

Berwyn police have responded to the crimes, Lt. James Sassetti said.

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Problems highlighted by Degner’s death still damaging

Matthew Degner, son of Lydia Price, died in September, but there are still related problems locally and nationally: the house where they lived is still standing, and hoarding, a problem highlighted by his death, continues to afflict Americans.

Neighbors, including Horacio Hernandez of the 2800 block of Harvey, are concerned about the abandoned house. “Our concern is the house now because it’s abandoned. We don’t want an abandoned house in the area because people might try to live in there,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said he didn’t want Berwyn to be known for the incident.

“[Price] was the only one outside of the loop of neighbors; she never really gave us an opportunity to help,” he said. “[Berwyn] is a very safe and clean neighborhood; there had been no serious problems until what happened.”

Berwyn Police Chief James Ritz described the circumstances of the animal hoarding. He said officers really didn’t get a chance to investigate because Price refused to admit them into the house. Although there were numerous calls, the closest officers ever came to entering the home was in 2004 when there was a call about a possible methamphetamine lab due to a stench. At that time, officers spoke with Price and saw dog feces, which were causing the smell, according to Ritz, who said they asked numerous times to enter the home and “did everything they could to investigate.”

“She was well within her rights to deny them entry,” Ritz said. “No judge would grant a warrant based on dog feces…the officers did everything they could.”

Police discovered the conditions of the house after they found Degner dead outside the home in the 2800 block of Lombard Avenue on Thursday, Sept. 8. They were then able to enter the home, where they found more than 200 animals living with Price, her four children and the children’s grandmother. Degner died of bronchopneumonia.

“It’s senseless to put blame on anyone…that’s not going to bring Matthew back,” Ritz said. He said the Berwyn police department conducted a critical incident debriefing for the officers involved since the situation was so horrendous. “We always offer counseling and monitor officers’ welfare to make sure no one begins to suffer PTSD,” he said. “It was something you hope you never see again.”

Hoarding, however, is more common than previously thought, according to Dr. John E. Calamari, Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board at OCD Chicago, an organization that provides resources about obsessive compulsive disorder, and professor and chair of the psychology department at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in North Chicago, Ill. “Hoarding goes unnoticed because they don’t come in for treatment,” he said. “There aren’t very good estimates, but its prevalence is higher than that of OCD, which is about 2 to 3 percent of the population.”

Calamari said hoarding is a heritable problem; its prevalence is increased if a person is related to someone who has hoarded. This connection is stronger than that of OCD, he said. Though it has seemed in the past that hoarding is a type of OCD, Calamari said hoarding appears to be different from OCD because the treatments that generally help people who have OCD, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) and cognitive behavioral therapy, don’t seem to help people who have a hoarding problem. SSRI’s are a popular medication generally used to treat anxiety disorders and depression, while cognitive behavioral therapy is a class of therapies that focus on a client’s thoughts and try to change his or her thoughts in order to change behavior and emotions.

“This is a complicated problem…there is emerging research that suggests it involves lots of things, possibly including ADHD. There are a number of things that come together due to biological and learning experiences that make it more possible for hoarding to happen,” Calamari said. “It’s a severe mental illness we don’t really understand.”

Price is scheduled to have a court proceeding at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14 at the Fourth Municipal District Courthouse in Maywood.

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