Chicago police are looking into the possibility that illicit drug-dealing may have led to a shooting in a tunnel between two busy Loop subway stations during Thursday’s evening rush hour.
The 27-year-old man who was shot in the hip has been arrested many times and has felony convictions for narcotics and weapons-related offenses, according to court records.
“We suspect that this gunman is known to the victim,” Anthony Guglielmi, chief spokesman for the Police Department, said Friday. “We suspect that both of them could be involved in some type of narcotic sales.”
The victim is not cooperating in the case, Guglielmi said.
“We are disheartened by the fact that our victim … even as recent as an hour ago, refused to cooperate with investigators,” Guglielmi said late Friday afternoon. “Our first initial attempts to contact him, the victim just put earbuds into his ears.”
While police have reviewed CTA surveillance video of the shooting, investigators have not been able to identify a suspect, Guglielmi said.
READ MORE: Search continues for gunman who opened fire in Loop subway tunnel during evening rush hour »
The shooting happened just after 5 p.m. Thursday in a pedestrian tunnel between the Jackson Boulevard stops on the Blue and Red Lines. The victim was shot in the hip at close range and taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital for treatment, police said.
CTA surveillance video appears to show a man standing in the tunnel when the shooter walks up and fires twice, hitting him once, police said. Police recovered two shell casings.
The shooter — who wore a blue surgical mask across his mouth — ran west through the tunnel and either exited the subway or got on a train. The CTA shut down Blue Line service between the Grand Avenue and UIC-Halsted Street stops, and ordered Red Line trains to bypass the Jackson stop.
“This area is probably one of the safest areas of the city,” Chief of Patrol Fred Waller told reporters Thursday at the scene. “This is a targeted incident that the riders should not feel any type of discomfort or any type of hesitation in riding the CTA.”
The department said it had no immediate plans to publicly release the CTA video or still images until investigators exhaust all options in identifying the gunman.
“We have portions of very high-quality video that capture the offender and the victim’s movements,” Guglielmi said. “We are optimistic that we’re going to be able to hopefully identify him given the cooperation of witnesses and the review of that physical evidence.”
On Thursday, Michael Beley was on his way to catch a Red Line train when he was confronted by the police investigation.
“It’s surprising in the middle of the workweek in the Loop,” Beley said. “That’s crazy.”
On Friday, the CTA released a statement calling its transit network “a very safe system.
“Incidents like this are extremely rare, and as the police indicated, this was an isolated incident involving two individuals,” Catherine Hosinski, a CTA spokeswoman, said in the statement. “Regardless, we understand the severity of what occurred and want our riders to know that their safety was the top priority of everyone involved in responding to this incident.
“The Chicago Police Department provides law enforcement and security for CTA, and we work closely with them on a wide variety of strategies to prevent crime and fully investigate when it occurs,” Hosinski said.
She also said the CTA encourages riders “to be aware of their surroundings, listen for announcements that may contain instructions and to check their mobile devices or in-station digital displays for important service information and updates.”
Chicago Tribune’s Rosemary Sobol and Madeline Buckley contributed.