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A 3-year-old girl was shot in the chest outside her home in West Englewood Tuesday night when a gunman opened fire into a yard filled with children, minutes after a 15-year-old boy was wounded just blocks away, according to Chicago police.
Investigators said they were looking into whether the two attacks were related, as Chicago experiences one of its worst stretches of gun violence against children. This past weekend a 20-month-old boy was killed, a 10-year-old girl was fatally shot, and an 8-year-old suffered a graze wound to the head. A week earlier, five children were shot and killed in Chicago, including a 3-year-old boy.
“This is not and this cannot be our new normal,” said Chicago Police Chief of Operations Fred Waller, echoing remarks of the mayor and the police superintendent over the last few weeks. “Where is the outrage? Our babies are being shot. These are our babies.”
Police say the girl was outside her home in the 7000 blocks of South Damen Avenue about 8 p.m. Tuesday, playing in the yard with other children when someone fired shots from a car. Relatives said they thought the gunfire was fireworks, but the girl’s mother ran outside and found the girl lying face up with a wound to her chest.
She was taken to Comer Children’s Hospital in critical condition but was stabilized and upgraded to serious condition overnight, according to community activist Andrew Holmes, who was with the family at the hospital. She underwent emergency surgery for internal bleeding, and was alert and talking afterward, he said.
The girl has pierced ears and, before the surgery, she told a nurse who was apparently prepping her not to touch her earrings, Holmes said.
“The bright moment was when they came back out and told the family that she didn’t want anyone to touch or take out her earrings. That was a spark to the grandmother, to the whole family, indicating that she was well and alert,” Holmes said. “I guess usually she would tell them, don’t anybody touch her earrings. So that brought a smile to their faces, kind of brightened them up, and the first thing the grandmother said is, ‘She’s going to pull through.‘
“When you look at the age of that baby and considering the amount of pain and suffering that she’s going through, to say that out of her mouth, with all of that pain, that’s a lot of strength and a lot of awareness of her surroundings,” he continued. “I told the mother, I say, well you know that’s 50% of her strength and once she lays eyes on you, and you being able to touch her, that’s the other 50%. That would bring a 100% recovery.”
Holmes said he wasn’t sure where the 3-year-old was hit. “Not by the heart or anything right in there, or we’d be looking at the same thing as last week. If it was dead center I think we’d be looking at another child lost,” he said.
The girl is expected to remain under observation in the hospital for a few days.
Bursts of fireworks kept going off as police worked the scene of the shooting, cordoning off the block and laying out markers next to shell casings.
A woman visiting friends said she was sitting on their couch when she heard a series of shots. “I’m like, they’re shooting out here, when there are kids out here?” the woman said. “As soon as I came out, all the yellow tape was up.”
Police are investigating whether the shooting may have been in retaliation for an attack about an hour earlier that wounded a 15-year-old boy in the 7100 blocks of South Honore Street, also in West Englewood. The boy was hit at least twice when someone fired from a black car, police said. The boy was taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center in good condition.
Police are yet to arrest anyone for either of the shooting.