Stories by Matt Masterson

Trio Allegedly Defrauded Victims Out of $750K Through Romance, Inheritance Scams

(Thomas Hawk / Flickr)

Two men and a woman with Chicago-area ties could face decades in federal prison after they allegedly swindled dozens of victims out of hundreds of thousands of dollars through inheritance and romance fraud schemes.

CDC Study Finds Measures Taken by Cook County Sheriff Mitigated COVID-19 Spread in Jail

(WTTW News)

Through the use of aggressive strategies and widespread testing, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office was able to successfully mitigate the spread of COVID-19 inside the Cook County Jail, according to a new study.

Police, Lightfoot Call Friday Protest ‘Ambush,’ ‘Anarchy’ as Protesters Decry Police Brutality

Surveillance footage released Monday, July 20, 2020 by the Chicago Police Department shows protesters marching toward the Christopher Columbus statue Friday evening. (Chicago Police Department)

Police Superintendent David Brown said officers faced organized mob action “designed to provoke violent responses” during a protest that started peacefully but turned violent, leaving several officers and protesters injured.

CPS Pitches Hybrid Learning for Fall, But Parents Can Opt Out of Sending Kids Back Into Schools

(WTTW News)

CPS released its long-awaited reopening framework on Friday. But these plans are just preliminary recommendations, and a final decision on in-person instruction will not be made until late August.

Chicago Parents, Teachers Concerned About Return to School Ahead of CPS Reopening Plan

(Don Harder / Flickr)

Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey said Thursday the school district must begin the 2020-21 academic year with remote learning until there are firm guidelines and protocols in place to ensure kids and staff alike are protected from COVID-19.

CPS Issues New Guidance as Local Councils Vote on Cops in Schools

Demonstrators march in Chicago on Wednesday, June 24, 2020 to show their support for removing police officers from schools. (WTTW News)

Chicago Public Schools is recommending school leaders schedule community town hall meetings as more and more local school councils consider votes to eliminate their resource officer programs.

CPD Entering ‘Next Generation’ of Policing as 2 Senior Leaders Retire

(WTTW News)

Chicago’s top cop says his department is heading into the “next generation” of policing as two of its most senior leaders head into retirement and more than a dozen others have been promoted into command staff positions.

City Colleges Launches Debt Forgiveness Program to Offer Former Students a ‘Fresh Start’

Malcolm X College (Daniel X. O'Neil / Flickr)

Students held back by debt who dropped out of the City Colleges of Chicago system before completing their studies can now re-enroll and finish their degrees through a relief program that promises to forgive those unpaid dues.

Chicago Police Add Language Access Coordinator to Better Engage Non-English Speakers

(WTTW News)

To better communicate with residents who have limited English proficiency, the Chicago Police Department has hired Roxana Cortes, a former Chicago Public Schools translation specialist.

Police: 64 Shot, 11 Killed as Weekend Violence Continues in Chicago

(WTTW News)

Chicago’s top cop David Brown is again calling for community partnerships and additional investments in South and West Side neighborhoods after yet another violent weekend that saw dozens of people shot.

Chicago Man Accused of Killing 1, Wounding 2 Who Tried to Stop Looting

Andrew Sneed (Chicago Police Department)

“These victims, I’m just going to classify them as good community members who were trying to do the right thing,” Chicago police Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said of the three men who were shot on May 31.

Chicago Man Charged in Fatal Pitchfork Stabbing of Elderly Grandmother

Dujuan Randle (Chicago Police Department)

Dujuan Randle, 41, was held without bond Thursday on charges of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder, two days after allegedly carrying out the fatal attack in broad daylight in front of neighbors.

Kim Foxx’s Office Creates Online Process to Report Police Misconduct Allegations

(WTTW News)

The Police Criminal Misconduct Complaint form, launched Tuesday, will allow residents to submit claims of criminal misconduct against law enforcement officers and upload photo and video evidence of any alleged incident.

Northside College Prep LSC Votes to Pull School Resource Officers

Northside College Prep (Facebook)

A Chicago public high school on the Northwest Side has voted to remove its school resource officers amid a nationwide push to rethink police in schools following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

No Bond for Alleged Getaway Driver in Fourth of July Shooting That Left 7-Year-Old Dead

Reginald Merrill (Chicago Police Department)

Reginald Merrill will be held in jail on charges of first-degree murder and aggravated battery following his first appearance in court on Tuesday, three days after a shooting that left 7-year-old Natalia Wallace dead and another man injured.

Lightfoot: City Will Fine, Shut Down Bars and Restaurants Violating COVID-19 Restrictions

“This is a make-or-break weekend for you,” the mayor said ahead of the holiday weekend.

Diners take advantage of expanded outdoor seating along a stretch of Broadway in Chicago on Friday, June 12, 2020. (WTTW News)

Mayor Lori Lightfoot had clear words for bar and restaurant owners who refuse to follow the city’s coronavirus guidelines during the Fourth of July weekend: You will be shut down and you will not reopen soon.

Chicago Matching 2016 Homicide Pace Through First Half of 2020

City ended 2016 with most murders in nearly two decades

(WTTW News)

In the first six months of 2020, there have been 329 murders, matching the total recorded in the first half of 2016 – a year that ended with 762 homicides, according to Chicago Police Department data.

Chicago Police, Feds Seek Help to Identify Persons of Interest in 53 Arson Investigations

(Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives)

“Business owners throughout Chicago saw their hopes and dreams go up in flames with these fires,” Police Superintendent David Brown said of dozens of arsons that took place during recent protests in Chicago.

Kim Foxx Declining to Prosecute ‘Minor Offenses’ Stemming From Recent Protests

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx appears on “Chicago Tonight” on March 18, 2020. (WTTW News)

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx on Tuesday issued a new policy instructing prosecutors to dismiss cases involving a handful of misdemeanor charges tied to recent protests, including disorderly conduct and curfew violations. 

City Releases Bodycam Video Showing Ex-Top Cop Eddie Johnson Asleep in Car

Body camera footage released Monday shows Chicago’s former Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, right, asleep behind the wheel of his vehicle on Oct. 17, 2019. The incident led to his eventual termination by Mayor Lori Lightfoot. (City of Chicago)

The video and documents come more than eight months after the encounter between police officers and the former superintendent, who was found asleep behind the wheel of his SUV after a night of drinking. 

Top Cop David Brown Again Decries Lack of Consequences for Chicago Gun Offenders

CPD to deploy 1,200 additional officers each day of Fourth of July weekend

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown speaks about weekend violence at a press conference Monday, June 29, 2020. (WTTW News via Chicago Police Department)

“As a dad ... I struggle to make sense of the reckless gun violence that continues to take the lives of our young people throughout the city,” Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said after 14 people were killed over the weekend.

No Bond For Chicago Man Accused of Gunning Down 2 High Schoolers

Laroy Battle (Chicago Police Department)

“He is a clear and present danger to all of society and all members of the community,” Judge Susana Ortiz said before denying bond Friday for 19-year-old Laroy Battle.

Judge Tosses Second Lawsuit Brought on Behalf of Murdered Scholar Yingying Zhang

A memorial stone engraved with Yingying Zhang’s name in both English and Chinese on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in June 2019, two years after her disappearance. (Photo by Mark Van Moer) Inset, top: Yingying Zhang (Courtesy University of Illinois Police Department). Bottom: Brendt Christensen (Courtesy Macon County Sheriff’s Department).

A Champaign County judge dismissed the lawsuit against a pair of University of Illinois social workers, each of whom interviewed Brendt Christensen weeks before he kidnapped Zhang and killed her inside his Champaign apartment in June 2017.

100,000 CPS Students to Get Free Internet Through $50M ‘Chicago Connected’ Program

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announces the launch of "Chicago Connected" on Thursday at Evergreen Middle School. (City of Chicago)

With the possibility of remote learning returning this fall, Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday announced the launch of a $50 million program that will provide free high-speed internet to students over the next four years.

CPS Board Rejects Motion to Terminate Contract With Police Department

Demonstrators march in Chicago on Wednesday, June 24, 2020 to show their support for removing police officers from schools. (WTTW News)

Chicago Public Schools will continue to utilize school resource officers in some of its high schools, after a motion to terminate the district’s $33 million contract with the Chicago Police Department was voted down Wednesday.