CHICAGO (AP) — A shooting that injured a 3-year-old boy and 12 others in Chicago occurred just outside a section of the city that police have flooded with officers, reigniting outrage over the toll of the community's gun violence and the inability of stepped-up police action to stop it.
Residents had gathered in a neighborhood park Thursday to watch a late-night basketball game when assailants armed with an assault rifle indiscriminately sprayed the crowd with bullets.
On Friday, residents decried the perpetrators' disregard for those caught in the crossfire, the invasion of drugs into their communities and a lack of local leaders to stand up for them. A prominent rap artist, meanwhile, said more must be done to understand the city's youth, and a frustrated police chief again called for tougher gun laws.
"We can do a lot of really good policing. ... We can reduce crime, like we're doing, but we're not going to have success occur as long as these guns keep flowing into our community," police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said during a news conference.
"Illegal guns, illegal guns, illegal guns drive violence," he said as he called on lawmakers to toughen the nation's gun laws.
The shooting happened shortly after 10 p.m. in Cornell Square Park — in the Back of the Yards neighborhood on the city's southwest side.
The assailants used a 7.62 mm rifle fed by a high-capacity magazine, a type of weapon that belongs on a "battlefield, not on the street or a corner or a park in the Back of the Yards," McCarthy said.
McCarthy said officers were "interviewing a number of people," but there was no one whom he would describe as being in police custody.
Among those hit was 3-year-old Deonta Howard, who was shot in the face, and two teenagers, a 15-year-old and a 17-year-old.
Deonta was alert when he arrived at the hospital and was apparently doing well, his family and friends said early Friday. He was in critical condition, as were two other shooting victims. The others were in serious or fair condition when taken to hospitals, according to the Chicago Fire Department. Hospital officials declined to provide updates Friday evening.
"It's devastating," said one of the boy's relatives, Morris Shadrach Davis, 63. He said one of the boy's uncles was fatally shot during a violent Labor Day weekend in the city that claimed a total of eight lives and left 20 others wounded.
"We are not a bad family," he said, struggling to make sense of his family's double tragedy and the larger tragedy unfolding in the city.
"The black community is really messed up now," he said at his home on the city's West Side. "We had leaders before. ... Drugs have infiltrated our community. We as a people have been totally forgotten."