This is an excerpt from a much longer interview I did with Gil “Big” Saenz and Pete Rodriguez at the Canton Reggio in 2016. I asked him about the Froebel school uprising, Harrison student activists and David Rodriguez, aka Boogie, who was killed in a shooting in June, 1973. Boogie was doing maintenance on an ongoing peace treaty between multiple gangs, along with Henry Villagomez. You can read the 1973 Chicago Today article here. Big told me and Pete what he remembered from that night. (This has been edited.)
At this point in the discussion, Big had been talking about an earlier altercation between Coulter Latin Kings and Morgan Deuces that led to the shooting the night Boogie was killed.
BIG: … So two days later we hanging around Harrison Park. I used to work the night shift, so I go over there to see what's going on. And that night we were talking about, you know, what happened that other day (when) Deadeye was coming down 18th Place before they had the cul-de-sac. So I tell one of the young guys to get one of the guns. And look at these fools, they like coming through our neighborhood. He shot up this car boom boom, shot up this car, right? He (Boogie) was mad, so they must of told Boogie Gonzales and Henry Villa Gomez yeah, you know the Deuces are starting trouble. You come to our neighborhood, you looking for trouble! I don't go to their neighborhood cuz I know I'd be looking for trouble.
That night, we were all there. Buzz was there. Buzz got shot when he was 12 years old.
PETE My brother Art was there.
BIG: Some of the guys that hanged around with us, they were never even in a gang, they were called Cullerton Boys. They were always into sports. But they were younger and some of the gangs hanged around with us. Some of the Cullerton Boys became Midget Deuces. I believe Beaver was one. Oh, who else, I don't think Bubba was a Cullerton boy, but,
PETE: -he lived on Cullerton. He was Gus's best friend.
BIG: Yeah he was Gus's best friend but I don't know if he was really a Cullerton.
PETE: He was a Cullerton before he became a Deuce.
BIG: He became a Mini Morgan Deuce, then Little Count. Who else there's some other guys. Anyways. So when these guys were playing sports, the other gangs had sport teams too and they would pick on em, and we started backing em up, you know. And I remember one day little Ray’s son he was a big kid-
BIG: I started talking smack to em, and you know what, I don't care who's brother that is. Like I'm gonna be scared. And lil Ray was, all Latin Count... you know-
PETE: Bobby's brother, big guy...
BIG: Yeah Bobby yeah
PETE: Bobby was the roller, praise the Holy Roller
BIG: Bobby used to be one of my rivals in the Bishops. You know.
So we would hang around there and that night, David Boogie Gonzalez and Henry Villa Gomez came and said, you all are fighting with the Kings. I said, we're not fighting with the Kings. Well, you shot up their car. Yeah we shot up their car! They're in our neighborhood. What you wanna do, give them roses?
PETE: Gar, he had a screw loose...He was nutso. I seen him he had his stomach all slit, he said, look you can see what I ate. I ate chile con carne (laughs)
NICOLE Was it in the nighttime or the daytime?
BIG: It was at night. The bar was at a different location. We were hanging around at the bell.
NICOLE: The bell?
PETE: Harrison park, they put it right in the middle. In front of the field house. Gar used to ring it all the time. They had to put a fucking thing on it to keep it from ringing (laughs) He was out there at 6 in the morning (laughs) He rides around on his bicycle now. You can see him. He has no front teeth. And it's like. And I just crack up when I see him and I know all the crazy shit.
BIG: So we're talking, there was about 20 of us. Even Hifi was there. I don’t know if Hifi was of the ones that got shot too. This guy they called Louie the Punk was driving the car. Deadeye pulled out a gun and started shooting at them, like six or seven shots. Well, right there David Boogie Gonzalez was standing next to me and Henry here and some of the guys. And they shot him twice in the heart.
NICOLE: You didn't get-
BIG: No, I went and started hugging the grass. When Deadeye shot, everybody went down. And you know when the guys are like ay, let's go get em, right. I said, get down! Here comes another car! So when that car was on 18th Place that shot on us, by the time they got to 19th street the other car came. Cuz the guys were getting up to chase them. This guy Trini in a station wagon I don't know who was riding with him but he had a shotgun, he shot some of the guys. I think Nestor, Buzz, even one of the girls got shot. I forgot who it was. They got shot with a shotgun.
PETE: Art was there. He caught a pellet. He had a couple.
BIG: All least with all that, people were not gonna die, but still. You know they got shot. They were gonna set us up good. But that guy did 25 years. Deadeye, you know where they're now? They’re delivering pizzas and breaded steaks for Ricobenes. Skinny guy with glasses, if you see a guy with glasses. (2016)