Village Mulls Chuck E. Cheese's Options After Parking Lot Shooting

Oak Lawn village manager says that time for a "proactive" response from Chuck E. Cheese's corporate management after December parking lot shooting is "running out."


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.

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“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, 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.

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[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.

IPFWGK1 January 08, 2013 at 01:52 AM
Smoke Lawn. Broke Lawn. Never heard joke lawn but I know surrounding communities do not like us.
prophet12155 January 08, 2013 at 01:55 AM
Oak Lawn Gal......fantastic points! I also agree with hiking the taxes of these "problem businesses." But you are all failing to remember that the village failed to renew the license of that motel on southwest highway and cicero when there were shady characters and multiple arrests and issues. But I also think Dr. Shelton is right, too. We can't just chase out every business when there are "issues." We should make these business step up their game though. We need to make Oak Lawn appealing to people to come shop here, no matter who they are.
Jeeter Gerasi January 08, 2013 at 02:05 AM
Candi cullen January 08, 2013 at 02:23 AM
This is crackin me up to say chucky cheese attracts gang members!! I see bad stuff at walgreens sports authority portillos home depot kmart ect the list goes on all over oak lawn! And i live here on 87 th n cicero i see no hookers just a bunch of lieing panhandlers that have homes and people keep on fillin there cups so they keep sitting on our corners
Rick Drew January 08, 2013 at 03:29 AM
Chuck E Cheese's attracts gang bangers and criminals? Really? So if a place serves crappy pizza, lousy food and has kiddie amusements, that makes it a gang hang-out? Really? How about the fact that it's in a pretty bad area? What about the string of bank robberies? Convenience store robberies? Only an idiot (or politician, but that's the same thing) would blame the business. That's why we have police. Like it or not, that's the world we live in. Hopefully concealed carry passes soon. You'll see a decrease in those crimes when people can legally fight back and defend themselves.
Dm January 08, 2013 at 04:01 AM
The Bowling Alley. Hootiers, Chuck E. Chesse.
Dr. Linda Lorincz Shelton January 08, 2013 at 04:10 AM
I would like to hear from the police chief. I don't know the history you talk about. I took my son there 15-20 years ago and had no problem. I would like to see the police reports and get the chief's analysis and recommendations.
Dave W. January 08, 2013 at 05:25 AM
It is possible for even people who live IN Oak Lawn to not always have a car...some of my clients are without cars, or only have one in the family and often take the bus at least one way to make appointments.
Dave W. January 08, 2013 at 06:30 AM
Dr. LLS, this company has had a LOT of problems at this location. I'm the first one to call out people for blaming a company when the problem is the people...I'm not saying that the people aren't the problem, even. There is a limit, though...other businesses have kept up with their security issues, some have not. In Oak Lawn, it is primarily the same three (or WAS), and now one of them are gone (well, repalced with hopefully better management). Private security at a place of business is nothing new. Twenty years ago I worked at Western Trails, and on the weekend we had on off-duty OLPD officer there, all year round. Repeat, TWENTY YEARS AGO! If they aren't making money AND are running this location despite numerous problems, that speaks to a much larger, possibly systemic problem with CEC. So, what it comes down to is either they are incapable of providing a safe enviroment, or they essentially refuse to do so. Either way, it is their responsibilty to maintain security ON their premises. As I said earlier, Hickmarts are KNOWN to have security issues, to the point that they have a dedicated patrol car non-stop making the rounds. It is the cost of doing business sometimes. This isn't a matter of anybody's rights being infringed upon, nobody is searching anybody illegally. This is merely protecting patrons and townspeople. By NOT doing so, they are themselves bad neighbors. Just as nobody wants to live next to a bad residential neighbor, neither do they want CEC.
Dave W. January 08, 2013 at 06:41 AM
Wow, splitting the difference here, but... Dr. LLS, it isn't wide-spread, it isn't happening at Target, or Home Depot, or Portillo's, or even Longhonr or K-Mart, right next door to CEC, or Denny's, the McDonald's, or the Gyros place by Hooters. It didn't happen at Jewel or Rosie's or Starbucks by the Brunswick, either. Specific places, with specific problems. Does it suck when you go to a store and stuff is all over the floor? Yes...but while it easy, and maybe even right to say that customers have been sloppy or lazy, ultimately, it is management that is responsible for keeping that property, that store, in good shape. So when violence or crime continues to happen at a store, they should take the responsiblity for that on their shoulders. Even Aldi has security in every (I think) store. There could be an ordinance that anyplace that sells alcohol and has more than two police calls in a year is mandated to have private security for the next two...maybe non-alcohol is three. That way it could be said that the place gets a few for what they pay in taxes, but after that, they go on a nuisance list and essentially probation. They always retain the right to just close on go to Evergreen Park or Chicago or anyplace that enjoys endangering the populace.
Dave W. January 08, 2013 at 06:46 AM
Pat F., the only flaw with your theory is that not many businesses in Oak Lawn can stay open on residents alone. Do you think the mall-strosity they want to build at 111th and Cicero will really surivive with just residents? Nope. They are PLANNING on it bringing IN people from other areas, even far-away ones. You are correct, however, that ANY business that has crime outweigh tax revenue far outweighs being a useful part of the community. Not sure what else would go there, but could it really be any worse?
Dave W. January 08, 2013 at 06:55 AM
What an intersting attitude on the value of human life...I'm not PRO-gangbanger, by any means, but wishing they would kill each other instead of just wishing for a world where gangbangers aren't as widespread because they had better homelifes and saw mroe than one path to monetary success would be a little better, no? I mean, I'm cynical and hold a grudge, but the issue is a little bigger than just who does what. When we collectively continue to ignore that (as we have for fifty or more years), we cannot be surprised when history keeps repeating. How far out will everybody live and still drive into the city for work just because we are too lazy or something else to tackle the real problem, the root cause? I don't want to pay to 'patch them up' either, but wishing them all dead isn't going to happen, so why not instead wish them all better, or the whole world better, even. A little too cold, even for me...sorry.
Dave W. January 08, 2013 at 06:59 AM
Dr. LLS...it was not as bad twenty years ago...it is bad now. Anytime besides 1pm on a weekday during school is a risk. Nobody here is stretching how bad it is...I don't even know any residents that go there. My friends live five minutes from there, go to Longhorn ALL the time (I know, must be rough), and STILL go to the location in Tinley Park...as do I when I take my son. Just not worth the risk...
Dave W. January 08, 2013 at 07:01 AM
Seems like CEC has been warned more than once already...if they don't have a grade A plan this time, no license renewal. I agree with everything you say...our police are for the WHOLE town, not so one can be stationed outside of one or two places ALL the time...
Dave W. January 08, 2013 at 07:05 AM
There are never any reports about fighting and children being knocked down or people ditching a check or shots fired at "walgreens sports authority portillos home depot kmart ect." It really is just Hooters and CEC's. Maybe they are gangbangers, maybe not, I do not care if they are, or if they are black, or white, or purple...I CARE that they are violent idiots in public places. Those places need to step up their security or close up shop. I never see hookers on 87th Street, though, and I drive by there almost everyday.
Lorraine Swanson (Editor) January 08, 2013 at 09:00 AM
The board has been shut down for the evening but will be back up on Tuesday morning.
Dr. Linda Lorincz Shelton January 08, 2013 at 02:10 PM
Dave W. You have some good ideas about ordinances in regard to mandating any business that sells liquor and has numerous police calls to be required to pay for increased security. This may withstand legal analysis and protect OL from discrimimatiom and liability charges.
dept one January 08, 2013 at 03:18 PM
Who is too lazy or something else to tackle the real problem the root cause? Where is the responsibility for the gangbanger teachers parents and community? If one works in the city and lives in the suburbs its not their responsibility to raise inner city children. We drive to work everyday to support our own family and we donate generously to good causes. It's not my problem that gangbanger teachers parents siblings friends and community fails them. How well do you support your own family before you tag any suburbanite as lazy?
Hometown mom January 08, 2013 at 03:40 PM
Many parents these days don't watch their children in family restaurant/Arcades. I haven't been in the CEC In oak lawn in about 9 years because kids were hitting my toddler at the time and trying to steal tickets and tokens. I didn't feel safe then and thought CEC in Orland would be better and it wasn't. It's sad but times have changed and good business step up their security or change their policies. For instance Haunted Trails and Dave and busters have three times the staff walking around the Arcade areas. when children are misbehaving or doing something unsafe they take appropriate action. Just the presence of extra adult supervision detours the bad behavior. Most people who live in oak lawn don't go to CEC because it just isn't a pleasant experience. If my family can't enjoy the facility because of it not keeping up with changing times I don't want it here.
Rick Drew January 08, 2013 at 05:53 PM
Haunted trails is actually a good example. About 25 years ago it was a pit. Kids were getting mugged for their quarters and even their games after paying for them. They cleaned up the place and added more staff. Problem solved.
Christy January 08, 2013 at 07:37 PM
I think it goes without saying that the ideal is to address the problems on all levels. First, if the consequences were greater, maybe that would curtail gang violence and crime. I hate the term "repeat offender". If someone is at risk of hurting themselves and others wouldn't they be safer in jail......I suspect we would be. MY comment related to innocent bystanders getting hurt. If you want to punch, shoot or yell at someone---then find the person, look them in the eye and do what you are going to do. It would be ideal if we could get everyone to sit down and talk about it and come to a compromise....but that is probably not going to happen. I said if they NEED to kill each other--(I didn't say they should)--then at least they should be proficient enough in the chosen behavior to locate their object of their aggression and not kill or would innocent people including children by "mistake". If the consequences were greater, swift and certain they would have to change strategy and save the bullets.
Liopleurodon January 08, 2013 at 09:06 PM
Yes CEC does attract gang-bangers. Most arcades in the area do; visit these places and use your eyes. I don't know the reason why such businesses attract gang-bangers, but they do. The reason is irrelevant however. There's a world of difference between a place being targeted for a robbery and a place being used as a gang hang out. Robbers have traveled into nicer areas to steal since the beginning of time; however once the same undesirable element starts spending their leisure time in your town, there's a far more serious problem as the next step is moving in. Oak Lawn NEEDS to get and keep such people out of the Village if it wants to maintain a healthy future and attract quality residents. If accomplishing that goal means not renewing CEC's business license than so be it. The Village's ultimate responsibility is to provide a safe and secure environment for its residents and businesses. How do you think business owners in neighboring properties feel about CEC attracting a gang element and driving away potential customers?
Liopleurodon January 08, 2013 at 09:08 PM
The solution to the problem is more police or carrying a gun to take your kids out for games & pizza? I'm in favor of concealed carry and think it will be a positive for Illinois, but I should not need to carry a weapon to feel safe at establishments in my own town. As a taxpayer I also do not think we should be paying OLPD to babysit an establishment that attracts gangbangers; we should simply remove the establishment so the gangbangers will have no reason to come. You are asking for trained officers to sit and watch an establishment that attracts a criminal element rather than patrol out streets and parks rather than just remove the establishment?
AyrLine January 09, 2013 at 12:51 AM
I have a spider that lives in a corner of my basement that has had a web in place for nearly a year. The spider built his home (it wasn't given to him or subsidized). He/she preys on others only for a subsistent existence (doesn't expect free cheese and S.N.A.P.) and spends the rest of the day doing not much of anything. I see similar behavior from my spider and certain parts of our species (actually, the "not doing much during the day" the only similarity). Also the spider seems to have a far superior intelligence level and more importantly contributes more to our society if only for it's ability to rid my home of ants, flies, gnats and other undesirables.
Been There January 09, 2013 at 03:31 PM
Dave W I think the poster might've meant having to travel with kids, presents, balloons and everything else a parent has to bring when traveling with little kids. Just my opinion though. At least that's how I read it.
Dave W. January 09, 2013 at 07:43 PM
Been There I took that possiblity into account, but sometimes a two car family isn't how the world works, and people do what they need to do. There was a time when everything was horseback or a wagon.
RALPH MALPH January 10, 2013 at 12:32 AM
wake up oak lawn ! if a place like that attracts people like that get rid of it . why is it so hard for people to believe gang bangers go there with their family ? open your eyes because oak lawn is going down hill because of dumps like this . if its a place that most oak lawn residents would not bring their kids to , it needs to go .
Rob January 12, 2013 at 12:22 AM
Dr Linda, If your doctors office was suddenly innundated by Black Ganster Disciples, Latin Kings and the like.......and those very patients were being tailed by rival gang members, what would you do?
Mickey the rat January 12, 2013 at 12:55 AM
Dr. Shelton, If these gangbangers & members were really concerned about the safety of their families, they wouldn't be in Gangs, end of story. There is NO REASON for them to be hanging around a kids party venue. That is the life they chose for...., and this is important...., Themselves. IF they cared anything about their families, they would've stayed away!!
Dr. Linda Lorincz Shelton January 12, 2013 at 03:10 AM
I've done home visits in the inner city & the gang members actually protected me because they cared about kids. My patients are in the Guinness Book of World Records as "lightest surviving triplets" - weighing a total of 4 lb 4 oz together in 1990 now grown with good jobs (a Navy cryptologist) & my patients in the inner city respected my good medical care of kids. I don't like the crimes they do & that's exactly what I told them as I am rather blunt- that I would never go into a house if I saw drugs or guns & they respected that, but the reason there are gangs is a lot more complicated than people think - education, jobs, govt policies actually inducing breakup of African-American families in the last several decades, actually increasing crime instead of decreasing it, etc. Solving issues is never a one-sided endeavor. We should ask frequent customers of CEC to give their opinions too. When I had trouble with drugged up fathers coming into nurseries to visit babies I complained to gang leadership & they had their people start screening those coming into the hospital to visit - problem solved - no police needed. I simply threatened to not come into the hospital & take care of the babies if I felt threatened - & to not let my staff come in either. I really believe we should have a meeting with CEC customers - post a sign for two weeks & ask the parents of kids who come there to come to the meeting & see what they recommend - it would be an interesting meeting.


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