It would be easy to say Friday night Oct. 13 was unlucky for Cynthia Trevillion.
The reality is the tragic event that occurred that night impacted so many more people and highlights an often-overlooked aspect of Chicago’s gang violence: it is not just the south and west sides that feel the painful sting of violence.
Cynthia Trevillion was the innocent victim of gang violence in the far north neighborhood that night, according 49th Ward Ald. Joe Moore, struck down as she walked to the Morse train station with her husband.
Early in the evening of that Friday night, in a hail of gunfire, the 64-year-old math teacher was fatally shot, shell casings littering the street in the aftermath of the drive-by shooting.
A long-running gang conflict, says Moore, is to blame. “It was the result of conflicts between a bunch of different rival gangs.”
“I just saw flashes of light,” John Trevillion remembered weeks later, sitting in his second-floor apartment. He was walking with his wife to the Morse Street El that night to catch a train and join friends at dinner.
Trevlilion said he hit the ground as Cynthia was struck. The recognition of what had just happened was immediate. The look on her face, he said, told him the injury was likely fatal.
The two were married in 1988, educators, who moved to Chicago 14 years ago to teach at the Waldorf School in Rogers Park.
Cynthia loved to cook. “Everybody knows her as butter is better queen,” he said. And she loved the Cubs, he noted, holding a picture of the two of them in front of Wrigley Field not long after the team won the World Series.
On occasion, he said, they heard gunshots from their apartment. “But we just took them as well, normal,” he said quietly.
The drive-by shooting that killed Trevillion was the by-product of a long-simmering gang conflict in Rogers Park. The irony is, according to former 24th District police commander Bruce Rottner is, “they are all part of the same gang.”
Rottner was born in Rogers Park and served as commander from 2005 to 2008. He, and others believe, the gang feud is fueled by a 2012 shooting that took the life of Anton “Pooh Bear” Sanders.
“There is what is known as the Pooh Bear gang,” he said and its main rival is LOC City, which stands for Loyalty Over Cash. Police believe both are part of the Gangster Disciples.
The violence in Rogers Park, Rottner said is not surprising. “It’s, I would say, all over the city in varying degrees,” he acknowledged.
On the evening Cynthia Trevillion was shot and killed, gang violence also ended the life of a 15-year old Sullivan High School student.
A recent immigrant to this country, he was shot in the back because the gang members were trying to recruit him into their gang, according to alderman Moore.
“It’s a relatedly new recent phenomenon,” he said. “I think the gangs are very, very small in our neighborhood…maybe a dozen to 18 hardcore members and they are looking for new recruits.
“And they are looking at the vulnerable immigrant population. We’ve got a lot of recent refugees and immigrants who have come to our neighborhood,” he said, “the ones that they appear to be targeting are coming from Africa.”
Ironically, even as the two murders occurred, homicides and shootings, according to police statistics are down significantly in the 24th police district from the same period last year.
“And then this flairs up,” said Moore.
At the intersection of Morse and Glenwood, where Cynthia Trevillion was shot, flowers and notes mark a make-shift memorial.
Your death has affected us all, please stop hate, one reads.
And in letters sent to John Trevillion, 8th grade students honor their teacher, his wife.
In the four short years that I knew Mrs. T, one student wrote, I really learned how much a teacher could care for you.
Cynthia Trevillion now joins a long list of innocents killed as a result of gang violence in Chicago: Blair Holt, Hadiya Pendleton and on and on.
“I’ve already sensed in myself the tendency towards resignation,” John Trevillion said. Still he wills himself forward, he says, to try and turn an unspeakable act into what his wife would call, a positive deed.
“And I cannot shrink from that,” he said.
The untimely death of his wife he notes is both a gift and a burden. But more power rests, he hopes, in the gift born of tragedy on a Friday the 13th.