Oak Lawn Village Manager Larry Deetjen says he has "mandated" a meeting with corporate representatives from CEC Entertainment to come to Oak Lawn and discuss the most recent spate of violence that occurred in the parking lot of the company’s Oak Lawn Chuck E. Cheese’s franchise on Dec. 22.
“I’ve always stressed that Oak Lawn is a family community and we won’t condone this type of activity,” Deetjen said. “I want to see a proactive response on [CEC’s] part under the village business license and liquor license.”
The evening of Dec. 22, a 20-year-old Chicago resident and admitted member of the Gangster Disciples street gang, was celebrating his child’s birthday with family members at the restaurant. The man told Patch he was sitting in his car after placing a birthday cake in the rear seat when two assailants came up on foot and began shooting into the car.
The 20-year-old escaped injury when he dove beneath the steering wheel. He drove the car to the front of the restaurant and told security to call police. Police said the man did not know who shot at him and would not be able to identify the shooters.
According to the police report, the man has a lengthy criminal history and witnessed a gang-related murder in Chicago last August. He acknowledged that there might be a number of people wanting to shoot him from rival gangs in the neighborhood, police said.
Officers located eight 9mm shell casings in the parking lot between Longhorn and Chuck E. Cheese’s.
There were no witnesses at the scene. Surveillance video of the parking lot on the east side of the building shows possibly two people running toward the 20-year-old’s car from behind and start firing. The shooters fled eastbound on foot.
CEC Entertainment is the company that develops, operates and franchises the Chuck E. Cheese’s family dining and entertainment centers. Officials from the Irving, TX-based-corporation met with village officials last year following an incident where several women and children were knocked down in a brawl. Eight people said to be members of the same family were arrested.
Deetjen said he and other village officials including police and fire, and Trustee Tom Duhig (Dist. 4) expressed their concerns to the corporate executive. The Oak Lawn Chuck E. Cheese’s also underwent an intensive building inspection. The restaurant was clean and in excellent physical shape, the village manager said.
[CEC Entertainment] was responsive,” Deetjen added. “They addressed all of our recommendations for fire, safety and security.”
At that time, the village requested additional security at the front entrance and beefing up security cameras inside and outside the restaurant.
“I told them it was very serious,” Deetjen said of the February 2012 brawl. Oak Lawn isn’t going to condone that type of incident.”
Deetjen said he contacted CEC on Dec. 24, who was aware of the shooting. An executive told Deetjen the company was conducting its own internal investigation through a law firm in Wayne, NJ.
Deetjen said he has made recommendations to CEC Entertainment “but their time for action is rapidly closing, and you can quote me.”
Chuck E. Cheese’s business license is set to expire on April 30. Deetjen said he is reviewing the restaurant’s business license and exploring all options.
“For the record, during my tenure I have put businesses on month-to-month probation as well as not renewed and/or not approved applications for licenses after due diligence and always in full compliance with local ordinances and state and federal law,” Deetjen said.
Following a July 2010, gang-related shooting at the Brunswick Zone, in which the shooter was shot in the chest by off-duty security guards, the village mandated that the bowling center close at 10 p.m. at the recommendation of police.
“If you have a business bringing in disproportionate unsafe or dangerous activity than you need to take a look at that business license,” Mayor Dave Heilmann said.
Heilmann said he has brought his own young children to the Oak Lawn Chuck E. Cheese’s.
“I wouldn’t bring my children there if I thought it was unsafe but certain incidents like this give you pause,” the mayor said.