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Attorney for woman slain in Wicker Park Walgreens questions state’s attorney’s handling of suspect’s gun burglary case

Chicago Tribune logo Chicago Tribune 9/16/2020 By Peter Nickeas, Chicago Tribune
a man and a woman standing in front of a building: Israel Alvarado stands near a memorial for his fiancee, Olga Maria Calderon, outside a Walgreens, following a news conference Wednesday, Sept. 16. Calderon was stabbed to death at her workplace, where the news conference was held, at Walgreens in Wicker Park. © Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS Israel Alvarado stands near a memorial for his fiancee, Olga Maria Calderon, outside a Walgreens, following a news conference Wednesday, Sept. 16. Calderon was stabbed to death at her workplace, where the news conference was held, at Walgreens in Wicker Park.

An attorney for the family of a woman stabbed to death in a Wicker Park neighborhood Walgreens slammed the Cook County state’s attorney’s office for their handling of the alleged murderer’s prior burglary case and some area businesses for not cooperating with the Chicago Police Department’s investigation.

Frank A. Sommario wearing a suit and tie: Attorney Frank Sommario speaks of the stabbing death of Olga Maria Calderon during a news conference, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020. Calderon was stabbed to death at her workplace, where the news conference was held, at a Walgreens at 1372 N. Milwaukee. At left is Israel Alvarado, fiancee of Calderon. © Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS Attorney Frank Sommario speaks of the stabbing death of Olga Maria Calderon during a news conference, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020. Calderon was stabbed to death at her workplace, where the news conference was held, at a Walgreens at 1372 N. Milwaukee. At left is Israel Alvarado, fiancee of Calderon.

The allegations came at a news conference Wednesday morning outside the Walgreens in the 1300 block of North Milwaukee Avenue, where Olga Maria Calderon was working on Sept. 6 when a man stabbed her to death.

Israel Alvarado, Calderon’s fiance, spoke about how bright, caring and funny his fiancee was before she was killed while working at the store, 1372 N. Milwaukee Ave.

He and his attorney also faulted State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office for its handling of a gun burglary case involving the alleged offender. The suspect in the murder, 18-year-old Sincere Williams, was charged with burglarizing a suburban gun store earlier this year.

Williams, who was under the age of 18 at the time, allegedly stole several firearms and was arrested shortly afterward, sources said, and had been placed on electronic monitoring in May.

Williams was released from electronic monitoring, without objection from the state’s attorney’s office, while that case was pending.

“What we want to know is why would the state’s attorney allow a person who robbed a gun store be allowed to walk free to commit other crimes,” attorney Frank Sommario said. “If it was because he is schizophrenic as is reported in the news then why wasn’t he required to be electronically monitored while getting the necessary medical or psychological treatment?”

a group of people looking at a cell phone: Israel Alvarado, fiancee of Olga Maria Calderon, center, is comforted by family following a press conference. © Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS Israel Alvarado, fiancee of Olga Maria Calderon, center, is comforted by family following a press conference.

A spokesperson for the state’s attorney’s office said in an emailed statement that the Juvenile Court Act prohibits the public release of information regarding juvenile matters unless ordered by the court.

Alvarado said he hopes that “the mistakes that happened before this event never happen again. That this person, if he needs help that he gets it. And the state’s attorney does her job this time, and cares. To get justice for my wife and our kids and our family."

Additionally, Alvarado, and later community activist Andrew Holmes, both said businesses on Milwaukee Avenue did not cooperate with the police investigation.

Frank A. Sommario in a suit standing in front of a crowd: Attorney Frank Sommario speaks of the stabbing death of Olga Maria Calderon and the lack of security during a press conference. © Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS Attorney Frank Sommario speaks of the stabbing death of Olga Maria Calderon and the lack of security during a press conference.

“To the people in businesses down Milwaukee who refused to help the police. I need you to know one thing. It wasn’t the police asking you for help, it was my fiancee, and you told her no,” Alvarado said. “If they didn’t catch him because of the help of other good citizens, that would be on your head and you have to live with that.”

a man standing in front of a crowd: Israel Alvarado recalls his fiancee, Olga Maria Calderon during a press conference. © Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS Israel Alvarado recalls his fiancee, Olga Maria Calderon during a press conference.

Holmes said police encountered businesses who claimed their cameras weren’t working, the same businesses whose cameras would be working if it was their store getting robbed or burglarized.

The Chicago Police Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Williams, who appeared in court on first-degree murder charges, is suspected of robbing the same Wicker Park Walgreens a few days before — so while prosecutors assume that his motive in the stabbing was robbery, they can’t be sure.

Williams entered the Walgreens with a knife, hoping to rob the store, Area 5 Detective Cmdr. Eric Winstrom said during a news conference when charges were announced. He said Williams grabbed Calderon, who had been stocking shelves, around the neck.

Judge Arthur Wesley Willis ordered Williams held without bail after prosecutors detailed the case against him, including copious video evidence that shows him stab 32-year-old Calderon and then walk calmly home.

“He did not take anything in this case … (video) does show him walk straight to the victim and viciously attack her,” Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said in court last week. “I cannot give you a definitive motive here other than sometimes people just do evil things.”

Williams even had the forethought to wear two sets of clothing on his way to the Walgreens, then discard them on his way back, Murphy said.

Williams is a high school student who lives with his mother and has a history of schizophrenia and seizures, said his attorney, Assistant Public Defender Chris Anderson.

In holding Williams without bail, Willis acknowledged the potential mental health issues that may have been at play, but told the defendant “at this time I cannot release you.”

Chicago Tribune’s Megan Crepeau contributed to this report.

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