Business owners discuss safety after father killed in Wrigleyville shooting, alleged robbery

Hermilo Beltran was standing near North Clark Street in Lakeview when he was shot, killed, Chicago police say
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Local business owners are planning to meet to discuss safety in the Wrigleyville area after an employee from a popular pizza restaurant was shot and killed over the weekend.

The man was killed in a shooting just blocks from Wrigley Field Sunday night, Chicago police said.

Police said the 47-year-old victim was standing in an alley in the 3400-block of North Clark Street when shots were fired at about 10:15 p.m.

He was transported by the Chicago Fire Department to Illinois Masonic Medical Center in critical condition with gunshot wounds to the chest and armpit area, where he later died.

Family identified the victim as Hermilo Beltran, a father of two school-aged girls. His widow said he was a hard-working man on his way to his second job as a custodian at Happy Camper Pizza. She said police told her they believe he was killed in a robbery gone wrong.

"He was taken away by people who do not know what they are doing," she said through a translator. "They left our daughters orphaned."

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She said police told her Beltran's cell phone was found in the alley after his death, but his wallet was missing.

The Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce contributes to a private security force in the neighborhood, operating in addition to Chicago police. There are also numerous cameras in the area. One was able to record video believed to be of the suspect in a silver Mercedes sedan leaving the area after the shooting.

Beltran's wife said he worked two jobs and she often went with him to Wrigleyville to make sure he was safe. But not Sunday night.

"For some reason, he didn't bother to wake me up," she said, and added she wishes he had been with him. "It's a great pain that can never be repaired. It's left an empty space in my heart and in our home."

Alderman Tom Tunney, who represents the 44th Ward where Lakeview is located, said the 19th District Police Department is down from a high of 400 officers a couple years ago to only 300 now. He said he has repeatedly called for additional resources for the neighborhood.

"It's not a good thing," Tunney said. "It's a citywide problem, but we need help."

A spokesman for Happy Camper said, "The entire Happy Camper family mourns the loss of Hermilo Beltran to this senseless act of violence. He was a valued member of our team and we are heartbroken for his family and friends."

With baseball season just around the corner, business owners in the area had already planned to meet and discuss safety in the area Tuesday night.

"Yes, this is not good, but the neighborhood is strong and we will have a very welcoming opening day," said 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tonney.

"We need more police officers. We are down and more retirements are coming," said Maureen Martino, with the East Lakeview Chamber of Commerce.

The owner of Old Crow Smokehouse is out of town, but is sending one of his managers to the meeting, as he calls on the city, county and state leaders to strengthen the safety bill in Springfield to keep repeat offenders off the street.

"On the safety bill, we want to add some language that repeat violent offenders who carjack, murder, attempted murder, should not be allowed out on electronic monitor and should not be on bail," Sam Sanchez said.

Sanchez said getting extra officers back is crucial.

"We would like to see the gang unit come back, the TAC team come back -- so all this stuff was taken: the TAC team, the gang unit. We need to go back to policing," he said.

Neighborhood officials insist Wrigleyville and Lakeview are safe areas, but crime statistics show the number of murders, robberies and auto thefts are up from this year over the same time last year. However, those numbers are generally still lower than the rest of the city.

Some business owners said they're already hiring extra private security and changing the way their employees come and go.

Police said no one is in custody and Area Three detectives are investigating the deadly shooting.

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