The Waukegan Park District has hired a private security firm to patrol Waukegan parks after an 18-year-old Gurnee man was shot and killed at Bowen Park in early June.
The Waukegan Police Department has provided security for many years after the city’s parks close at night.
Beginning last month, additional patrols were added using Signal 88 Security, a private company, the park district announced.
The Waukegan Park District said they are reinforcing their commitment to providing safe parks for the community by “using enhanced safety measures.”
Portable sensors to count vehicles, note entry time, measure vehicle speed and traffic flow, and gather other information was also added to the parks.
The Signal 88 Security contract costs the park district $4,500 a month and the company was contracted for the summer months. The Waukegan Police Department will also continue to patrol the parks.
“Information gathered from the patrols and sensor equipment will assist in identifying unauthorized use, potential criminal activity and increase the effectiveness of security measures,” the park district said in a statement.
On June 6, Ladarrius M. Cowart, 18, of Gurnee, was shot in the head and died at Bowen Park, 1800 North Sheridan Road in Waukegan.
Officers with the Waukegan Police Department responded to calls of shots fired around 2:20 a.m. that morning.
Officers located Cowart, who had been shot in one of the park’s parking lots, Waukegan Deputy Police Chief Joe Florip said at the time.
Paramedics pronounced Cowart dead at the scene. The Waukegan Police Criminal Investigations Division was called to investigate the shooting.
Investigators believe that numerous people, possibly between 50-70, were in the parking lot when the shooting occurred. None of the witnesses have come forward, Florip said.
“We know there are witnesses to this crime. For this violence to stop, members of the community must come forward,” Waukegan Police Chief Wayne Walles said.
Numerous shell casings were located at the scene but police did not release the number of casings found.
A GoFundMe account was started to help the teen’s family with the financial burden of the funeral. It raised more than $5,000.
Gurnee resident Hazel Truesdell, who is a family friend of Cowart, said that Cowart was an “amazing son, brother, nephew, and friend” and was “loved by so many.”
He was hanging out with his friends at the park after attending a graduation party earlier in the day when his life was taken by “senseless gun violence,” Truesdell said.
She said the teen had no gang affiliation or criminal record. “His family is truly devastated by his sudden loss. The last thing a parent should have to do is bury their child.”
Police have not announced charges against the suspect or suspects who shot Cowart.
Anyone with information about the homicide is asked to contact the Waukegan Police Department Criminal Investigations Division at 847-360-9001.