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Gang funeral crackdown leads to gun arrest on West Side

Updated: January 10, 2013 6:44AM

A 17-year-old was arrested Saturday on Chicago’s West Side for bringing a loaded handgun to a slain gang member’s funeral, the police said.

Roosevelt Yarber, of the 4100 of West Van Buren Street, was charged with unlawful use of a weapon.

Yarber and a group of six others walked in to the funeral of a known Gangster Disciples on Saturday morning and left minutes later, Chicago Police Department Area North Deputy Chief John Escalante said.

Officers were at the funeral in the 4600 block of West Madison Street as part of an effort to crack down on violence at gang members’ funerals.

“We’re looking for rival gang members to make sure gangs aren’t coming to cause trouble,” Escalante said.

The officers didn’t recognize Yarber and the others, Escalante said, and, as they tried to stop them as they left the funeral, they started running but were caught nearby.

He said Yarber was carrying a loaded .44 Magnum handgun.

Yarber is not a known gang member, but the people he was with are members of the Four Corner Hustlers or New Breeds gangs, Escalante said.

The New Breeds and the Gangster Disciples have an “active gang conflict,” Escalante said. Factions of the Four Corner Hustlers in that area also have been at odds with the Gangster Disciples, he said.

“We still don’t know what their intentions was,” he said, but one of them “literally walked in to the church with a loaded gun.”

Escalante said the arrest “reinforces the need for us to pay special attention to these gang funerals so people who are there to pay their respects can do so without fear. Whether we prevented a shooting today or tomorrow, we took that gun off the street.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said last week that gang funerals would be considered “gang events” at which patdowns will be conducted and police officers armed with assault rifles will be present.

Two men were gunned down last week on the steps of a church during a funeral for an alleged gang member. The shooting, which claimed the life of 21-year-old Sherman Miller, happened outside St. Columbanus Catholic Church in the 300 block of East 71st Street.

“We will continue to make our presence known at gang funerals and wakes to ensure they go off safely, without anyone having the fear of being shot,” Escalante said. “You should be able to pay your resects at a funeral or a wake without the fear of violence.”

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