Cops place bull’s-eye on suspected gang of Hadiya’s alleged killers
BY FRANK MAIN Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org February 14, 2013 6:41PM
Updated: March 17, 2013 6:35PM
Hadiya Pendleton’s alleged killers have started a war.
Not with another gang.
But with the Chicago Police Department.
The suspects, Michael Ward and Kenneth Williams, belong to a gang faction called SUWU, authorities say. On Thursday, police officials vowed to target every member.
It’s part of a strategy police Supt. Garry McCarthy launched in 2011 after a Maniac Latin Disciples member allegedly wounded two young girls in a Northwest Side park. The shooter was aiming at rival gang members, police said.
McCarthy’s strategy — called group accountability — put a bull’s-eye on the back of every MLD member. Hundreds of them have been arrested, some repeatedly, for everything from driving with a cellphone to violent offenses, since 2011.
The same now goes for SUWU, said Nick Roti, chief of the police Organized Crime Bureau.
“We will target them for minor infractions,” Roti said. “Someone in their gang shot and killed an innocent girl. Just like the MLDs, they are going to be targeted by us.”
Police said SUWU has about 40 members. Their turf is from 37th to 39th streets between Ellis and Lake Park avenues just west of Lake Michigan.
Police believe Hadiya’s slaying was the result of a chain reaction involving SUWU and a rival gang.
Williams, a reputed member, was shot in the arm in July near his home at 39th and Lake Park. A reputed member of 4-6 Terror was arrested in the shooting.
But Williams refused to help prosecute him, police said. Instead, authorities believe Ward and Williams sought street justice.
Police suspect Ward and Williams were on the hunt for 4-6 Terror members on Jan. 29 when Ward allegedly shot 15-year-old Hadiya. She was standing with friends under a canopy at Harsh Park in the 4400 block of South Oakenwald.
Hadiya, a baton twirler, had participated in President Barack Obama’s most recent inaugural festivities. The president is visiting Chicago Friday and is expected to discuss gun violence in light of her murder.
Ward, 18, of the 300 block of West 59th, confessed to being the triggerman, prosecutors said. Williams, 20, was allegedly the getaway driver.
Police said SUWU started about a year ago, and many of those who joined were juveniles.
SUWU’s turf isn’t covered with gang graffiti like some other parts of the city.
Roti said gang factions like SUWU use the Internet as their graffiti walls. They boast about their gang activity and taunt their enemies on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
Twitter is full of SUWU-related postings following Hadiya’s murder.
One posting, with a photo of a man with a handgun, said: “SUWU havin a bad February.”
Another, with a photo of Ward and Williams, said: “It’s not a gang, it’s a family.”
SUWU’s members took the gang’s name from a Lil’ Wayne song, police said.
In the song, “Promise,” the superstar rapper says: “I also got that street credit. I got more work than any dude. You knew girl I am a Blood Su-Wu.”
“Su-Wu” is what members of Los Angeles’ Bloods street gang say to greet each other.
But the SUWU faction in Chicago doesn’t have a connection to the Bloods besides the rapper’s lyrics, police said.
The neighborhood where the faction started is in transition. A sprawling public housing complex has been demolished and new rental units are popping up. On Thursday, construction workers were busy in the neighborhood.
Some alleged SUWU members moved into the new housing with their families.
The neighborhood is experiencing an influx of teenagers with affiliations to large, traditional gangs like the Gangster Disciples and Black Disciples.
But after the teens started hanging out together, they ignored their past rivalries and allegedly became SUWU members.
SUWU is a “proximity” gang, Roti explained.
One resident, Bill Lucas, said gang activity in the neighborhood has escalated over the past year.
“They come in, shoot and go back out,” said Lucas, adding that he’s lived near 37th and Lake Park Avenue since 1949.
Lucas, who was fixing his car in the street outside his home, said he enjoys living in the area.
“I go fishing for perch over there,” he said, pointing Lake Michigan a few blocks away.
But over the past year, he said he’s watched out for the young gangbangers in the area.
“They don’t fear the police. They don’t fear anyone,” he said.