Evergreen Park parents on alert for suspected gang member's funeral

May 8, 2012 2:44:03 PM PDT
Evergreen Park schools let out at 3 p.m. Tuesday, able to rest easy following a peaceful end to a suspected gang member's funeral, which placed the school district on alert since Monday.

Joshua Cepeda, 26, was shot April 21 in Brighton Park near 35th and Western. He died eight days later at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Parents were informed via robo call on Friday that Evergreen Park police was issuing the alert for Cepeda's wake on Monday and his funeral service Tuesday. A transcript of the call reads, in part, "you may want to make arrangements for your child to be picked up at school rather than walking home....Our elementary students will not have recess outside on Tuesday."

"I was shocked," said Cathy Larmon, student's grandmother. "I had no idea anything like that was going on around here."

"It didn't seem like that big of a deal to me," said Allison Michale, Evergreen Park parent. "It's just a funeral. It seemed excessive to call everyone in the town because there is one funeral."

Evergreen Park Police Deputy Chief Wayne Gutkowski said they decided to recommend the measures after "the City of Chicago advised us that the funeral for a suspected gang member was to take place here and that there was the possibility of reprisal."

Police patrols, which included detectives from Chicago's Gang and Crimes Unit, kept watch on the funeral home until the funeral procession left without incident shortly after noon.

Cepeda's family denies any gang involvement.

"I think it was beyond excessive," said Veronica Robles, cousin. "Joshua was a good kid, and he has family that's mourning. I think it's really inappropriate."

A spokesperson for the funeral home said the whole situation was highly unusual, but they were comfortable with the police department's safety measures.


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