North Riverside man charged with murder

Chicago street gang leader ordered hit, police say

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By BOB UPHUES

North Riverside resident Melvin Martin, who is reputed to be the leader of a Chicago street gang, was arrested Oct. 30 after police reportedly foiled the assassination of a rival gang leader ordered by Martin.

North Riverside Police Chief Anthony Garvey confirmed that Chicago police carrying a warrant for Martin's arrest, took him into custody at his apartment at 8011 Edgewater Road on the evening of Oct. 31. He was charged with murder, attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

Martin, 30, the alleged leader of the New Breed street gang, is currently being held without bail at Cook County Jail awaiting another court date on Friday.

According to Chicago police, three members of the New Breed game were sent to the Humboldt Park neighborhood on Oct. 30 to gun down a member of the rival Traveling Vice Lords in retaliation for the Oct. 27 murder of New Breed gang member Marquel Harper.

The three were riding in a stolen vehicle near the intersection of Kedzie Avenue and Augusta Boulevard when members of the Chicago police special gang task force stopped them just before 4 p.m. According to Andy Conklin, spokesman for the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, the men inside the car was armed with an AK-47 assault rifle and a handgun. After pointing the weapons at police, the officers fired, killing two of the men, Marcus Thomas and William Tyler.

The driver of the vehicle, Tristan Scaggs, 19, of Chicago was shot in the shoulder and was hospitalized and charged with two counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder, one count of conspiracy to commit murder and five counts of aggravated assault on a police officer.

Since January, police estimate that the gangs may be responsible for 19 murders and 11 aggravated batteries. Police responded in March by creating a Traveling Vice Lords/New Breed Task Force to address the violence. The gang plotted its hits by accessing the Illinois Department of Corrections Web site for photos of rival gang members in order to get exact descriptions of their targets. Police reportedly used wiretaps on cellphones to track the movements of the would-be hit men and their superiors in this latest incident.

Police also charged Lamel Burns, another New Breed leader, with murder, attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Burns was reportedly arrested in an apartment building in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago. According to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times last Saturday, Burns had allegedly stabbed himself 20 to 30 times before police used a stun gun to stop him. He was in critical condition at Stroger Hospital on Friday.

North Riverside police last had contact with Martin in 2003, when they were called to assist the FBI in serving a felony arrest warrant against him at the same Edgewater Road address. Prior to that, police were called to the apartment in response to a domestic disturbance in 2002. In that instance, according to Garvey, Martin's girlfriend was charged with domestic violence after stabbing him. Martin's wounds were superficial, and he was not charged in that instance.

In 2001, North Riverside police arrested Martin for driving on a suspended license, and cited him for other traffic offenses.

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