Two local mayors said they were distraught after a second series of shootings left three more police officers dead this past weekend.
Three police officers were shot and killed on Sunday in Baton Rouge, La., Sunday by a former Marine, Gavin Long, 29, of Kansas City, Mo. This comes after five police officers were shot and killed on July 7 in Dallas by U.S. Army Reserve veteran Micah Johnson, 25.
Both Long and Johnson were killed at the scene. Johnson reportedly said before his death that he wanted to kill white police officers. No explanations are available so far for Long’s actions. Johnson’s rampage was the result of the deaths of two black men after confrontations with police in suburban St. Paul, Min., and Baton Rouge. Both Johnson and Long were African American.
“Well, what happened is horrible,” said Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury. “In light of more of these shootings, we have to have more conversations. We just can’t keep going down this path.”
Chicago Ridge Mayor Chuck Tovar was in complete agreement.
“There are no easy answers,” said Tovar. “Society has to take a long look at itself. This just can’t go on.”
Despite the second series of tragedies in less than two weeks, Bury received some positive feedback on Friday. The owner of Style 95 Barber Shop in Oak Lawn reached out to his friends in the Palestinian community on Facebook to raise funds for the families of the victims of the Dallas shootings.
Mahd "Mike" Jaser, owner of Style 95 Barber Shop, and members of the Palestinian community stopped by the Oak Lawn Village Hall on Friday to present Police Chief Mike Murray with $3,000 in donations and plaques for the families of the victims that were given to commemorate their "honor and bravery in the line of duty... Oak Lawn and the Palestinian American Community will always remember their dedicated service."
Murray said their comments were heartfelt and appreciated.
"We have to support those who protect us,” said Jaser. “We love this country and wanted to do something to help. We cannot bring these brave men back, but we hope this gesture of support will comfort their families and let our officers in Oak Lawn know that we stand with them."
“I was touched by that,” said Bury. “Our thanks go to the Palestinian community for their help.”
In nearby Chicago Ridge, police also have to patrol and respond to incidents at the Chicago Ridge Mall. With malls being targets for terrorism, the recent shootings of law enforcement officers make the job that more difficult for police.
“Obviously, they have to be more aware,” said Tokar. “The world is getting crazier and crazier. It’s gotten out of control. The police are more cognizant of all this. They are definitely more careful when they approach a suspect.”
Tokar did state that police officers in other communities should be equipped with tasers so they respond to some crime using these devices instead of guns.
“But of course in certain incidents when someone pulls out a rifle, what are the police to do? You don’t use tasers then,” responded Tokar.
The Chicago Ridge mayor said he went to a conference about eight weeks ago over mall security. He said that ideas were discussed and representatives from the Orland Park Mall were also in attendance.
“We have definitely stepped up and have added more security,” Tokar said about the Chicago Ridge Mall. “We have also been stepping up security for RidgeFest. I don’t want to say what that is, obviously. But the police presence will be felt.”
Bury said discussions take place frequently with members of the Oak Lawn Police Department to come up with better ideas of protecting citizen.
“It has to stop and we have to find a way,” said Bury. “We are all in this together. We really have to commit to this. Hate is not the answer.”