Police investigate CPS Safe Passage route murder

August 11, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Bullets flew just after 6 p.m. Saturday in the Bronzeville area in the 2900-block of South State Street, killing Ralph McNeal, 54.

McNeal's family and friends all knew him as Cubby. He and two friends were enjoying the early evening Saturday night out in front of the Dearborn Homes at 29th and State, a block north of the IIT campus. A gunman approached on foot and started shooting, apparently angry with one of the other men. Two were hit. Cubby McNeal's wounds were fatal.

"He just got caught up in the crossfire, he was between somebody else – a love quarrel over a lady. He didn't have nothing to do with it," said Charles Thomas, victim's friend.

The shooting occurred in the shadow of a safe passage sign. This is the designated route for the children of Dearborn Homes and the surrounding neighborhood to take to Drake Elementary when the school year starts August 26.

"That's not gonna stop anything, to put a sign that says its safe to go through," said Dwight Fitch, resident.

Dwight Fitch has two children in grade school. His concern for their safety is not something limited to the school year or eased by the presence of a sign. He does think that the presence of many safe passage workers when the year begins will be a good thing.

"With the people implemented with the safe passage, it should work. I'm gonna watch mine so, you know everyone in the community should watch their kids," said Fitch.

The more immediate concern for Ralph McNeal's family is planning a funeral and hoping a killer is caught.

"Right now, I'm just hurt, that's all, it's sad. I just want the guy to turn himself in, please turn yourself in. You took something from us. Now we miss him, we ain't going to be able to see him no more," said Meredetise Wilson, victim's sister.

There were witnesses to the shooting and police say they have a good idea who they are looking for, but so far no arrests have been made.

Another man in his 20s was grazed by a bullet in that same shooting.

That is the route Chicago Public Schools advises students to take who are relocating from Drake to Williams Prep Academy.

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