Gage Park residents: The neighborhood 'has turned really bad, it's hood'

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - All is quiet in the 3000 block of West 54th street this Friday, but it’s a far cry from the chaos 24 hours earlier.

On Thursday evening, a 12-year-old boy was shot in the chest while playing tag with friends, all because he wouldn't throw down gang signs when ordered to do so by a young man who drove down the street, stopped his car and pointed a gun at the boy and a friend standing with him.

“Gage Park has turned really bad, it's really a hood, it's just bad, got to get out of here,” said Ernesto Loza, who lives on that block.

It’s a sentiment shared by many. But Phillip Gonzalez said it was far different when he moved on this block in 2008.

“Clean, everybody was out here they were playing with their kids, what else, everybody would say hello to each other, it was very nice,” Gonzalez said.

Now, with gang operating on either end of the block, it's very different.

“The gang activity around here has really gotten horrendous it really has,” Gonzalez said. “You have to watch your back, you have to watch who is coming by you, you have to make sure that you stay within the light.”

Just a few blocks away, where six members of the Martinez family were murdered two weeks ago, many people expressed similar concerns about safety in Gage Park.

Alderman Ray Lopez disputed the negative perception of this neighborhood, but with each new round of violence the frustration for those living here grows.

“It's just really messed up, kids can't be out here playing without getting messed with or shot, it's terrible it's like that, but it is what it is,” said Alan Luna.

Residents said they do see police patrolling in the neighborhood, but there just doesn’t seem to be enough officers to deal with the problem.

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