After man is arrested with guns and ammo near Moran Park, residents are concerned but continue with events

CBS Chicago
CBS Chicago

After man is arrested with guns and ammo near Moran Park, residents are concerned but continue with 02:23

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The events must go on.

Right now, that's the mindset of organizers of "back to school" celebrations planned this week at an Englewood park.

It's one week after a gunman was arrested after randomly firing into the park. His minivan, according to police, was filled with guns and ammo.

CBS 2's Steven Graves reports from Moran Park where groups are working hard to create a safe space.

Marshawnna Howell is a violence prevention case manager on Chicago's South Side.

"You know, make sure the kids have a safe space."

She walked on one of those safe spaces near Moran Park in Englewood. An area, Howell said, where gang tensions lead to gun violence.

"Just make sure they keep the peace because there are kids who play at Moran Park."

But word of a recent potential shooting plot has her even more concerned.

"It's disturbing, it's very disturbing."

On August 4, Chicago police arrested Alexander Podgorny, who is from suburban Woodridge. He's believed to have parked his mini-van near Moran Park.

An arrest report said a ShotSpotter alert brought officers to the area around 3:00 a.m. Paperwork said a POD camera showed him firing a shot into the park.

Officers reported later finding a handgun in his pocket, a rifle and other firearms in the vehicle, along with 300 spent shell casings and multiple magazines.

The report said officers also found documents with quote rants and references to mass shooting events.

"We have the community fighting each other, and then we have outsiders who are coming in," Howell said.

Howell and others groups have worked hard to change the stigma surrounding the park. Some groups are moving forward with back to school programs. One is scheduled for this Friday.

And they're spreading word on social media that one potential incident doesn't define their mission.

"This event is going to set us back. We have a lot of elderly people in our community and they're not so trusting."

Renee Collins is on the Moran Park Advisory council who did not find out about the incident from police. She had a safety meeting with officers, expressing the hope for more transparency to make the park safer.

Safety CBS 2 asked 16th Ward Alderman Stephanie Coleman about. She said that is being implemented as grassroots groups work to make change.

"The community will not allow what could have been tragedy to affect the other wonderful work. We are not afraid. It's time to do even more," Coleman said.

The "Back to School" and movie events will be held at Moran Park Friday afternoon and evening.

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