CHICAGO (Tribune News Service) — At least 15 people were injured, two critically, in a mass shooting at a Halloween party early Sunday morning in North Lawndale, according to Chicago police.
The attack represented the highest number of victims wounded in a Chicago shooting since March 2021 when 15 people were shot at a party in Park Manor, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
A man fired into the Halloween party with around 100 attendees inside a building in the 1200 block of South Pulaski Road shortly after 1 a.m., police said. The gunman fled, but officers quickly arrested him nearby with help from partygoers and found a gun in his possession. He has not yet been charged, police said.
The suspect had been kicked out of the party earlier, 10th District Cmdr. William Betancourt said at a news conference at the scene Sunday afternoon.
“He came back a few minutes later with a gun and began to shoot,” Betancourt said.
Outside the two-story brick building where the shooting took place, red solo cups lay atop wet leaves Sunday afternoon. Inside the mostly empty room where people had gathered, a costume mask with what looked like fake blood was left on the ground, a puddle of apparently real blood next to it.
Almost no one was at the scene Sunday morning, but around 40 anti-violence activists, police leaders, politicians and clergy arrived for the afternoon news conference and a subsequent short prayer vigil.
Officials shared few details at the news conference about the condition of the people shot. Some victims are still hospitalized, but most were initially transported to hospitals in “good” or “fair” condition, Betancourt said. The victims range in age from 26 to 53. Six women and nine men were shot, police said.
The two victims in critical condition, a 26-year-old woman and a 48-year-old man, were taken to Mount Sinai Hospital. The woman was shot in the left hip and right buttocks, and the man was shot in his right hip, right thigh and twice in the left thigh, police said.
The location where the gathering took place has a history of throwing unlicensed events, Betancourt said. A sign on the building said Studio 1258. Betancourt described the company that operates there as a licensed art gallery.
The spot was shut down May 6 for a party that did not have a permit, said Ivan Capifali, first deputy commissioner for the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. The department will investigate to see if the people who threw the gathering Saturday night violated laws, Capifali said.
Ald. Monique Scott, 24th, spoke directly to the “bad guy” when she addressed reporters.
“This has to stop. At what point does it stop?” she asked.
North Lawndale has seen a 9% drop in murders in the last year, a decline roughly in line with citywide trends, according to police data. However, crimes including robbery and motor vehicle theft are sharply up this year. The West Side neighborhood has one of the highest rates of people shot in the city, according to CPD data.
It was lucky that no one was killed in the shooting, Scott said, but the trauma for the many partygoers who witnessed the attack can’t be normalized, she added.
“I don’t know whether to scream or to cry. We shouldn’t be out here,” Scott said.
Mayor Brandon Johnson shared his support for the victims in a statement Sunday.
The city will work with community groups and faith leaders and “ensure that victims and survivors have the resources they need to address trauma,” he said in the statement. “As long as I am mayor, Chicago will continue to lead the call for common sense gun reform to bring safety to all communities,” he added.
CPD brass said they are focused on addressing trauma related to the attack. Beginning Tuesday, the department plans to operate an emergency assistance center at the nonprofit YMEN’s building across the street, CPD community policing Director Glen Brooks said. People affected by the Sunday attack and other shootings will be able to connect at the center with the department’s victim services program, as well as religious and nonprofit groups, Brooks said.
“We can hold people accountable, but we have to heal as a community if we want to stop this cycle of violence,” Brooks said.
“When you have the physical pain, that’s one, but the trauma that comes after it is long lasting. If we don’t address this, we know hurt people can hurt other people. So we’re trying to break that cycle.”
Last Halloween in nearby East Garfield Park, a drive-by mass shooting left 14 people shot, one fatally. The victims had been attending a vigil for a friend who died of surgery complications.
In a report published Sunday, victims told the Tribune that although they heard promising commitments in the days after the 2022 shooting, they ultimately received little support from government, leaving them to face enduring physical pain, major financial losses and lasting trauma largely alone.
Sunday’s shooting is the 39th shooting in Chicago in which four or more people were shot since Oct. 31 last year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
The block where the Sunday shooting occurred is home to local businesses, several churches and a Christian school serving kids from pre-K through eighth grade. The youth-focused nonprofit YMEN Chicago has a building across the street from where the shooting took place, as well as a pepper garden and a bicycle lending library on the opposite corner.
Hundreds of children come to the block every day, YMEN Executive Director Mike Trout said. The building where the shooting took place has repeatedly held large, nighttime parties in the past, he told the Tribune. The shooting only motivates him to continue his work, he said.
“It just fires me up,” Trout said. “I don’t want that to become the narrative about 14th and Pulaski when every day we try to make this a beautiful and safe space for young people.”
Clergy, police and anti-violence activists, many with the group Black Men United, held hands and prayed in a circle at the intersection after the police news conference. They called on God to stop gun violence as they stood in the cold, light rain.
The crowd quickly left after the prayers. Within a few minutes, no police, news reporters or activists were left at the scene. Few signs of the tragedy that occurred just hours earlier were left.
There was a single bullet hole in the building’s front window, apparently fired from the inside out, and a single high-heeled shoe made of clear plastic left on the sidewalk.
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