‘No one was listening': Humboldt Park residents say they reported erratic behavior of man dead after standoff

Neighbors of a man involved in a standoff with Chicago police Friday after he was seen brandishing a gun from the roof of a Humboldt Park building said they have been trying to bring attention to the situation for more than a year.

The man, who later took his own life inside the building in the 4100 block of West Chicago Avenue, had been the subject of more than 40 calls for service since January 2022, a police department source told the Sun-Times.

An autopsy revealed he died from a gunshot wound to the head, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. His death was ruled a suicide.

Neighbors said they reported seeing the man sitting on a makeshift platform atop the building, possibly with a gun, and had displayed an illuminated board with a swastika painted on it.

Officers responded shortly before 10 a.m. Friday to a report of a person with a gun on a roof, according to police, who said the man went inside and refused to come out. About 12 hours later, a SWAT team entered the building and found the man dead.

The Sun-Times is not naming the man because he has not been identified by the medical examiner’s office.

Farrah Walker, a member of the West Humboldt Park Community Coalition, said her group was first made aware of the swastika sign two months ago, but she said she has seen police activity at the building for more than a year.

Walker said she and others in the organization had reached out to city and state leaders about the Nazi symbol, including hand-delivering letters to the offices of Ald. Emma Mitts (37th), the mayor and governor. The group also made calls to 311 and the city’s Department of Buildings, she said.

A spokesperson for Mitts did not respond to a request for comment Saturday.

"Nothing had been resolved in a year of this going on,"  Walker said, saying she had been concerned the person responsible for the signs could resort to violence, including an "active shooter situation."

Erin Ekdahl, a 10-year Humboldt Park resident who lives a few blocks from where the standoff occurred, said she and many of her neighbors had reached out to police and Mitts as the situation "escalated." Ekdahl said she had heard gunshots from inside the building at night and had seen the illuminated swastika being put up.

She first noticed the scaffolding tower on top of the building three years ago, saying her husband had called it a "hunter’s nest" and described it as "very intimidating."


She wondered why city inspectors hadn’t looked into the structure, which she said appeared to be haphazardly constructed, and why they apparently allowed it to remain.

Ekdahl said police had previously closed Chicago Avenue on several occasions due to activities at the building, including in April when she said a man was seen on the roof with a "flamethrower."

Ekdahl offered that officials might not have understood or believed what she said she saw, but wondered if her concerns would have been ignored in a more affluent neighborhood.

"Our voices weren’t being heard," Ekdahl said. "It didn’t seem like [Ald. Mitts] cared, she didn’t give any voice to let us know she’s seeing us, knows what’s going on or is concerned. … This was someone who was a ticking time bomb."

Walker said she agreed.

"We don’t want anything like that to happen again," she said. "These types of things don’t just occur out of nowhere. … The community tried to talk to law enforcement, tried to talk to local officials about it, and no one was listening."

Both said they believed the man was suffering from mental illness and had hoped he would receive help.

"No one wanted this man to die," Walker said.

A relative of the man said on Saturday that they had not been in contact with him for several years and declined to comment.

A review of his social media accounts showed he had a history of making threats directed at government officials and had shared conspiracy theories.

In one Facebook post, he linked to a video that claimed to depict a fleet of UFOs from the "milky way 57th legion," and last week shared a picture of a mannequin hanging from a noose in what appears to be a law enforcement uniform with the caption "this is for you Chicago police department … and homeland security."

Court records showed he had been arrested on low-level drug charges decades ago, as well as some traffic offenses, but he had no recent charges.

"All of you and this operation against me will be executed," he wrote in a separate Facebook post as recently as Thursday. "Take that to the bank and take that to the grave."