By Jim Glennon
Salvador Herrera, 42, clocked out from his bartending shift in Oak Brook, IL at 1:45am on Sunday October 15th and headed for home…
…on the westside of Chicago.
He never made it.
He was shot in the back while driving his car on a residential street. Shot by at least one person in a group of four men who, according to witnesses, were in the process of trying to steal a Hyundai.
One witness reported that Herrera was driving slowly, perhaps causing the miscreant thieves to believe he was trying to identify them. Who knows, because after they shot through the car door, murdering Salvador, they ran.
As of this writing they are still at large.
Who cares? Why am I writing about another dead guy among the hundreds of dead guys in Chicago? Isn’t he just another statistic to be ignored by those in power? By those who self-righteously claim to care about human life? I mean as of this writing, on October 19th, according to one publication that tracks Chicago violent crime statistics, year-to-date there have been 518 murders in the city.
What’s one more and what’s so special about this one?
Why should you care enough to even read on?
It’s hard to entice, even if the obvious truth is that behind every stat there is a real person and behind that real person are lives that are irreparably shattered. In some cases, destroyed.
In this case, the real person was someone that several of my family members and relatives knew. Some of them fairly well and for decades.
Salvador worked at the Butterfield Country Club in Oak Brook, Illinois, a suburb approximately 15 miles outside of the city’s limits. Salvador worked there since he was 14 years old.
A few nights ago, I received a text message. A friend of mine, a member of the Country Club, told me about Salvador’s murder. She was stunned.
I have been a guest many times at the Club. There is a good chance I saw Salvador behind the bar once or twice. Not sure.
But my friends on the other hand, are very sure. They were more than aware of Salvador. Aware of how hard he worked and how friendly and giving he was to all he met. Aware of his smile, kind words and considerable efforts as an employee, becoming a friend to many of the Club members and fellow employees alike.
Salvador Herrera, Beyond the Statistic: The Man
Fox 32, a news affiliate in the city, posted a story about Salvador Herrera. I borrow from that.
“Police say officers were called to the 700 block of South Loomis Street and found Herrera slumped over the wheel of his car. Officers noticed his car’s engine was smoking and then realized that Herrera had a gunshot wound to his upper back. He was pronounced dead at the scene at 2:53 a.m.”
The story continues about the person and the people Salvador leaves behind.
- Herrera got a job at the Country Club at age 14 to support his family after their father died in a work accident.
- He first worked summers there doing cleanup and stuck with the Country Club for 28 years, eventually becoming a bartender, sister Remedios Herrera said.
- “He took care of us. He stepped up and supported us when our father died. That was his choice,” his sister said.
- He even footed college bills for his sisters, they said.
- He once traveled across the globe to take care of another sister, who had gotten sick while studying abroad in Spain. He brought his mother to Spain, too, and got her an apartment to be closer to her daughter.
- Herrera also bought a home at an age when the rest of his friends were trying to buy a car. Herrera took care of his mother in that home. He never married or had kids, his family said.
- “He supported my mom 100% — and me as well,” Marcelina Herrera said.
Salvador Herrera was a caretaker. A true custodian. A family man who spent his life–a life cut short by cowardly murderers–devoted to making sure those he loved were safe and had opportunities to succeed and prosper.
I couldn’t help but wonder, what was he thinking as his life started to fade?
Was he thinking about himself, his sisters, his mother? Who will take care of her now?
An article was posted the other day by a media outlet called The Center Square titled, Chicago’s homicide rate up; Black residents are 77% of victims.
The point I’m trying to get across here isn’t necessarily focused on race, though it is an aspect of my premise.
Note the startling numbers below:
- In 2014 Chicago had 380 murders and 1,902 wounded
- In 2015, 434 murders, 2,169 wounded
- In 2016, 663 murders, 3,097 wounded
- In 2019, 450 murders, 1,951 wounded
- 2020, 680 murders, 2,951 wounded
- 2021, 733 murders, 3,244 wounded
- 2022, 619 murders, 2,547 wounded
- 2023, Chicago is on pace for over the mid 600s again
Note the jump in numbers in 2015 and 2016 and then again in 2020.
Why the jump?
Criminologists, media types, activists, politicians, even some city chiefs appear to do back flips trying to avoid reality, the real reasons violent crime is spiking to early 1990 levels.
Covid is the most laughable, but it’s an easy excuse that eliminates culpability on, well, anyone’s part.
But what is the real reason crime is back to levels we haven’t seen in 30 years in some parts of the country? In some cities? Chicago.
Well, there is no reason. Reason being singular.
Politicians seeking power, biased activists and prejudiced media types always seem to want the answer to be easy, so they manufacture a simple cause.
Pick one. Doesn’t matter, because none of those are the cause.
I wrote about this before: if gun ownership were the problem, then the problem would be universal. Guns are everywhere. Studies show clearly that gun ownership has nothing to do with an unconscionable number of people committing murder. Former Mayor Lightfoot blamed Indiana and Wisconsin gun laws for the problem in Chicago but the rest of Illinois and even some neighborhoods in the city aren’t experiencing catastrophic homicide rates.
There is no one reason.
There are reasons, plural.
And Salvador Herrera and his family, his forever-grieving family, are victims of them.
So, what are they?
I offer the following. As you will see, they are as obvious as they are forbidden to discuss.
- Breakdown of the family structure
- Violent cultures replacing faith-based values
- Completely absent fathers
- Proliferation of gangs
- Rampant drug use
- Addicted parents
- The accepted narrative that most criminals are actually victims and real victims are unjustly privileged
What About the Police and the Local Justice Systems?
My articles try to focus on the police so let me do that now by bringing the profession into the problem.
- The demonization of the police and the police culture by the media, activists and politicians
- Soft on crime legislative initiatives
- The focus on equity of outcomes in arrests, indictments, sentencing and incarceration
- The rejection of proactive policing
- The end of stop and frisk
- Mistrust by line level officers of their command structures
- Prosecutors who refuse to enhance crimes when a firearm is used
That list isn’t to place blame on the police but, as is evident in early retirements, lack of recruitment and flat out quitting the profession, something is amiss!
Ever since the George Floyd incident, the blaming of the entire police profession and the Criminal Justice system as a whole, has became a sport without reason or consequence. Never mind that there are over 18,000 separate law enforcement agencies. Forget that there are approximately 3,200 counties, 50 states, multiple federal jurisdictions that make up what people encapsulate as “The Criminal Justice System.” Say whatever you want with impunity and pretend there will be no negative consequences from such preachy inane rhetoric.
Well, the consequences are evident in the stats and felt in the homes and hearts of people like the family of Salvador Herrera.
Since the onslaught of criticism about law enforcement and the overreaction by some legislative bodies and some prosecutors, violent criminals feel free to roam with guns and mayhem on their minds.
And the black community is taking the brunt of the violence. Where is the collective outrage?
Let me finish with a quick look at Chicago’s stats.
There have been 518 total murders as of this writing on October 20th.
Of those, 490 victims have been identified by race.
Of the 490, 82% of those victims are Black. Blacks in Chicago are approximately 29% of the population.
Of the 490, 68 (14%) people murdered are identified as Hispanic which make up approximately 29% of the city’s population.
White victims? Twenty (0.04%) have been murdered even as roughly 45% of Chicago’s population is considered to be white.
Where is the equity?
And outside of race? 86% of those murdered are male.
Why is there such inequity when it comes to victims of violent crime and why is it not honestly talked about and dealt with in an effort to stop the carnage?
Where is the outrage? When will there be a real discussion?
It is too late for Salvador Herrera. It is too late for his devastated families and friends.
Is it too late in general?
WHAT DO YOU THINK? E-mail your thoughts to us at: email@example.com