A three-year-old boy is among 13 people who were shot after gunmen opened fire on a Chicago park on Thursday night.
Shots rang out around 10.15pm and appeared to target a basketball court on the 51st Street side of Cornell Square Park in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, The Chicago Tribune reported.
The boy, identified as Deonte Howard and known to his family as ‘Tay-man’, was shot in the jaw as he sat with his mother and was rushed to hospital, where he remains in critical condition.
Twelve others–three females and nine males between the ages of 15 and 41–were shot and emergency crews rushed them to hospitals. One of the victims was able to drive himself to hospital.
Their injuries include gunshot wounds to the foot, buttocks, abdomen and back.
Police said they believed the shooting was gang related.
Julian Harris, 22, told the Chicago Sun-Times that dreadlocked gunmen driving in a gray sedan fired at him at the corner of Wood St and 51st before turning north and shooting up the park.
Harris said the three-year-old victim was his nephew, Deonte ‘Tay-man’ Howard. Deonte was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital.
‘They hit the light pole next to me but I ducked down and ran into the house,’ Harris said.
‘They’ve been coming round here looking for people to shoot every night–just gang-banging stuff. It’s what they do.’
Corey Brooks, pastor of New Beginnings Church on the South Side, told the Sun-Times that the bullet passed through Deonta’s face, but did not cause brain damage.
‘The family’s all here,’ he said. ‘They’re pretty distraught.’
Chicago Fire Department officials said the child was in critical condition. Two other victims were also in critical condition. The others were reported in serious to fair condition.
The boy was with his mother at the time of the shooting but she was not injured.
‘It needs to stop,’ the little boy’s grandmother, Semehca Nunn, told NBC as she broke down in tears.
‘Y’all are out here killing these innocent people: kids, parents, grandparents, mothers, fathers. It’s got to stop. Y’all need to stop.’
Nunn also lost her son, rapper Jerome ‘J Money’ Wood, to gun violence just last year.
Officer Amina Greer told the Press Association early this morning that no arrests have been made and she had no further information to give out at the time.
‘It’s an ongoing investigation,’ Greer added.
A witness told the Tribune at the scene that three police officers carried the child to an ambulance.
‘I didn’t hear no sounds (from the child),’ he said.
Kevin Green, 50, said he saw the aftermath of the shooting as paramedics worked to get victims to hospital.
‘The women were crying and screaming,’ he told the Chicago Sun-Times. ‘It was wild.’
According to Greer, at least 10 ambulances responded to the scene and eye-witnesses estimated that some 60 police officers were on the scene.
Police spokesman Ron Gaines said victims were being interviewed to determine the circumstances of the shooting. He said no one had been taken into custody.
Francis John, 70, said she was in her apartment when the shooting occurred. She said she went down to see what was going on and ‘a lot of youngsters were running scared.’
A 30-year resident, she said she was surprised by what had happened.
She told the Sun-Times there hasn’t been much gun violence in the neighborhood in recent years, adding the neighborhood went from good to bad 10 years ago, to better recently.
The shooting comes nearly three weeks after Chicago saw an outburst of violence over the Labor Day weekend that ended with eight dead and 20 others injured.
The city’s Police Department has responded to shootings that have grabbed national headlines by stepping up its crime-fighting efforts, paying overtime to add patrols to some neighborhoods, including the Back of the Yards, where Thursday’s shooting took place.