No rest in peace during wild west suburban Hillside funeral procession

An ABC7 I-Team Investigation

ByChuck Goudie and Christine Tressel and Barb Markoff WLS logo
Thursday, December 7, 2017
No rest in peace during wild west suburban funeral procession
Suburban police say they face an increasing threat from violent "mourners" who come from Chicago during gang funerals.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Gang funeral processions from Chicago to the suburbs are a regular, violent and increasing problem for suburban officials, according to the Hillside police chief who was personally involved in stopping and arresting four armed "mourners" on Tuesday.

Dashcam video from Hillside police cruisers shows Chief Joseph M. Lukaszek ramming his SUV into a car that he says was carrying armed funeral attendees. Other Hillside units then swarm the scene.

Chief Lukaszek said the vehicle had been involved in a Chicago shooting outside the church where the funeral service had been held, bringing the ceremony to an abrupt end. The first of several shooting scenes was at Prince of Peace Baptist Church in the South Austin neighborhood, in the 5400-block of West Van Buren Street, police said.

There were reports of additional gunshots and highway mayhem during the procession out west.

Hillside police followed the funeral cortege to Oakridge Cemetery, 4301 Roosevelt Road, and kept the gun car under surveillance - choosing to intercept it after the burial.

"We are safer stopping the car on Mannheim," Lukaszek told the I-Team. "We waited until he walked back into the car as soon as they were far enough from the cemetery, so as not to create a larger disturbance. That's when we decided to move in."

After crashing his police vehicle into the gun car, Lukaszek said the suspects began to run.

"One of the passengers pulled out a firearm and he tripped," he said.

Police caught three men and a woman - all in their 20s - and will be charged on Thursday, according to investigators. The suspects have extensive criminal histories according to detectives, with a total of more than 160 previous arrests.

Police said that they found three handguns with "high-capacity magazines and high-impact ammunition."

There were as many as 150 mourners at Oakridge Cemetery. Suburban law enforcement recently met with Catholic cemetery officials about the problem of gang-funerals-gone-wild.

"All are having the same issues," Lukaszek said. "It is out of hand. It's more of a time to act like a complete fool and not mourn."

He said that the cemeteries are "taking it seriously" and discussing hiring additional police for extra patrols.