Ear Hustle

McCormick Place Hyatt Regency Lobby Shooting Leaves One Man Dead

A 25-year-old man was shot to death inside a Hyatt Regency hotel at McCormick Place in the South Loop neighborhood early Saturday, police said.

About 2:20 a.m., the man was in a group of several men during a birthday party in the lobby of the hotel, at 2233 S. King Drive, when a male attacker pulled out a gun and fired shots, police said.

The man was struck in the head and was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

No one was in custody as a result of the shooting early Saturday.

Inside the hotel’s lobby, police officers blocked off the area leading to the south tower of the building with yellow crime tape, tying one end to a hand-sanitizing stand near the front door.

Shattered glass peppered the floor near a set of elevators inside the crime scene. Several potted plants lay on their sides. Some chairs were tipped over. A bottle of Patron and a bottle of vodka lay empty.

The man’s body lay in view of the windows on the south side of the hotel.

Police found at least half a dozen shell casings and one live round at the scene.

About an hour after the man was shot, his mother showed up at the hotel, saw her son’s body through the window and walked inside the lobby, pleading with the officers to let her see her son.

“Please, let me see my son,” the woman yelled as she stood near the yellow crime tape. “How did this happen? Here? This ain’t Englewood!”

Officers told her she couldn’t go up to her son’s body because police were still investigating the shooting.

Another woman hugged her. Both began weeping.

Other family and friends stood nearby. One man in a gray hoodie sat on the floor of the lobby with his face buried in his hands.

The man’s mother later walked back outside to stand near the windows so she could look at her son’s body. About a dozen friends and family members joined her there.

Confused guests at the hotel walked in and out of the lobby, staring at the crime scene and at the crying mother. Some stopped to talk to police officers, who directed them to the hotel’s reception desk.

Hotel staff escorted guests staying in the south tower to their rooms. Those wanting to check in were told to come back later Saturday morning.

“What’s going on?” some guests asked the man at the reception desk.

“I can’t explain,” he replied. “Right now, there is a situation … a big situation.”

Natalie Gustafson, 25, walked into the lobby to see the crime scene after coming back from a night out with a co-worker. She has been staying at the Hyatt to attend a convention for work at McCormick Place.

“It’s shocking to see this,” Gustafson said, adding that she visits Chicago for work several times a year. “It’s not something I expect to come to.”

Sony Chawli, 51, a cabdriver, said he just parked his taxi near the Hyatt’s front entrance as he began his shift at 2:30 a.m. when he heard at least one gunshot.

Chawli said he ran out of his cab toward the entrance and looked inside to see what happened.

Chawli, who has been a taxi driver for over a decade, said he always starts out his work day at the Hyatt. On weekends, he has often seen police cars called to the hotel for various fights and disturbances.

“Every weekend they have a problem here,” Chawli said as he stood next to his cab outside the hotel early Saturday. “They should have security inside.”

Nana Bonsu, a valet parking attendant, sits in a booth next to the hotel’s front entrance. He said he didn’t hear gunshots but saw a couple of people running out of the hotel’s front doors.

Bonsu, who has been working valet at the hotel for about 12 years, also said police are called from time to time to the Hyatt during weekend nights, usually because of some rowdy guests. He said the last time police showed up was about a month ago.

Both men said they’ve never heard of a shooting at the hotel in their years working next to it.

As police officers continued to investigate the fatal shooting, a pair of detectives stood outside a silver SUV parked near the windows on the south side of the hotel.

Yellow tape was now blocking the area in front of the windows, preventing family members or other people from looking closely at the body of the man.

The two detectives talked to the man’s mother as she sat in the driver’s seat of a car.

A few moments later, their chatter was interrupted by a man who was moaning as he came from around the corner.

The man, who said he was the victim’s father, lifted the yellow tape and walked over to the window so he could see his son.

“Hey man, you can’t be here,” one police officer told the man, trying to lead him away from the window.

The mother stepped out of her car and ran up to him.

“Let me handle this please,” she said, throwing up her hands in the air.

The two walked out of the crime scene, continuing to talk with detectives.

“We’ll find out who this person is,” said one of the detectives to the mother and the man. “And we’ll bring him justice.”

The Hyatt Regency McCormick Place issued a statement Saturday afternoon extending condolences to the victim’s family, and said the fatal shooting appears to be an “isolated incident.” Officials said the hotel is taking all precautions to ensure the safety of guest and workers.

Source: Chicago Tribune

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