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Woodridge man found with AR-15 rifle and guns in Englewood could be free on bail

Alexander Podgorny the man from suburban Woodridge, 27 miles from Chicago, in DuPage County, who was found with an AR-15 rifle and four other loaded guns on August 4 at Moran Park in Englewood, could be set free on electronic monitoring after he fired several shots at 3:30 am, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.

Podgorny faces five felony charges of aggravated use of a weapon.

No one was around when Podgorny, 29, fired shots at Moran Park, 5727 S. Racine Ave.

Moran Park Fieldhouse

Podgorny remains in jail after he was ordered held on $300,000 bail but Cook County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Sophia Ansari said Podgorny could be released on electronic monitoring if he posts bond to leave jail.

A ShotSpotter alerted police to the park after Podgorny fired shots. In addition to an AR-15 rifle, police found a semiautomatic handgun in his left pocket plus four other loaded guns in his minivan, according to a police report.

Officers also found a spent shotgun shell in front of the minivan, more than 300 spent shell casings, “large numbers” of rounds and magazines for various types of guns, a hatchet, a pruning saw and a receipt for one of the guns, according to the police report.

Police said Podgorny had a valid firearm owner’s identification card, but not a concealed carry license.

Callers, residents of Chicago’s Black community, flooded radio station WVON on Tuesday, August 9, with concerns that Podgorny was rehearsing plans to commit a mass shooting like the one in Highland Park on July 4.

With the 93rd Bud Billiken Parade on this Saturday, August 13, callers criticized Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Governor JB Pritzker for not speaking out or being as visible as they were during the mass shooting in Highland Park on the North Shore.

The Englewood Back to School Parade on August 20 ends at Ogden Park, which is several blocks south of Moran Park.

At a press conference on Monday, August 7, Police Superintendent David Brown said his department is conducting an ongoing investigation of the incident.

“What we know is, obviously he had weapons, a cache of ammunition, that he fired randomly,” Brown said.

“As far as notes and other facts about this offense … Yes, likely we are looking at other charges, but right now, just the one charge of reckless [aggravated unlawful use of a weapon] is all we have now.”

Brown said the Bud Billiken parade will have beefed up security. He said city officials have been involved in planning the parade since March and have since stepped up talks about “various aspects of security,” including the police resources dedicated to the parade.

Brown also said the police department is specifically interested in rooftops and “other high-ground areas in relation to that lesson learned from Highland Park.”

Alderman Stephanie Coleman (16th), whose ward includes Moran Park, told Block Club Chicago that she is working with the police and Chicago Park District security to order “extra surveillance” for all Englewood parks to prevent another attempt.

“When outsiders come into our community and make a plot of such, people are afraid to go to the park or outdoor events,” Coleman said. “The message is that we’re not going to function or live in fear. We shall continue to rise. We’ve got so much good happening.”

In an Instagram post, leaders from Teamwork Englewood, a community organization that offers economic, educational and social opportunities for neighbors, questioned why Podgorny from the southwestern suburb of Woodridge would have targeted Englewood.

“Moran Park has struggled with violence and was the reason that residents and stakeholders came together to work to improve and activate this park for the last few years,” organizers wrote. “Stakeholders have been working tirelessly to address the ongoing violence and create positive programming and experiences for residents.

“These efforts have shown positive response and a decrease in crime in and around that park. Moran Park is a real-life example of community-based crime reduction strategies working to reverse the impact of years of divestment.”

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