The block of three-flats where 14 people were shot Monday night — including three kids — is so rife with violence that drivers have been seen throwing their cars into reverse down the one-way street after being waved away at gunpoint.
“A group of young kids on the east end of the block stand in the street and pull guns out and won’t let you pass,” said a person who’s familiar with the 2700 block of West Flournoy Street in East Garfield Park.
“It’s a terrible block. Just horrible,” said the person, who asked not to be identified. Gunfire is a daily occurrence, the person added. When the police come, they get yelled at and spit on.
The shooting occurred around 9 p.m. as people celebrated Halloween and others gathered for a vigil and balloon release, Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said at a news conference shortly after the shooting.
The children injured in the shooting are 3, 11 and 13 years old, Brown said. All three were in serious condition. The other victims ranged in age from 31 to 56, police said.
“It’s over by three seconds,” Brown said outside Stroger Hospital, where many of the wounded were taken. “The car’s pulling out after driving by and shooting randomly into the crowd.
“We do not have any motive,” he said, adding that officers believe there were two shooters.
The shooting happened two blocks south of the Eisenhower Expressway. The one-way street is lined with brick and stone three-flats, some relatively new. There’s a church on the block and an abandoned basketball court.
The block is in one of the most violent police beats in the city, among 55 that have been targeted with extra resources by police over the last year, according to data kept by the Sun-Times.
Even with the area’s long struggle with gun violence, Monday night’s shooting “is just mind-boggling,” said Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), who represents the neighborhood.
He said the crowd was gathered for a balloon release to honor a woman who died recently of natural causes. As far as Ervin knows, no one in the crowd was affiliated with a street gang.
“These people, a lot of them are related,” he said. “They were just family members memorializing their loved one. … It was a lady that had passed.
“It’s just a reprehensible act,” the alderman added. “Not only as a community leader, but just as a man and as a Black man, that cannot go unanswered.”
Ervin said he is asking religious leaders to gather at the site at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
The chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus, Ervin said he also plans to convene a meeting of “Black leadership” on Saturday at Manley Career Academy High School, 2935 W. Polk. He said he hopes the meeting will produce a “unified cohesive plan of action for our community.”
“If these types of incidents aren’t a wake-up call to Black folks in Chicago, I don’t know what else is,” Ervin said, his voice rising in anger. “Three children shot. Several women. Not involved in any illegal activity, but just mourning and celebrating a life of a loved one.”
“If people can’t do that, we’re in worse shape [than we thought]. We’ve got to dig deep and channel this energy into something positive,” the alderman continued. “We have to come together to have this conversation. It may not be the most pleasant conversation. But it’s one that’s necessary.”
The area where the shooting occurred already receives added resources — like stepped-up police presence and help with jobs, housing and programming — under initiatives aimed at tamping down crime in some of the most violent neighborhoods.
While the city logged 580 murders and more than 3,000 shooting victims through October, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Brown frequently have touted declining numbers in these targeted communities.
East Garfield Park had 14 homicides and 80 nonfatal shootings through Oct. 28, according to a Sun-Times analysis of the most recent publicly available city data. That’s down from 29 homicides and 124 nonfatal shootings at the same time last year.
Monday night’s shooting is the worst mass attack in Chicago since 15 people were shot, two fatally, in Greater Grand Crossing in March of 2021. Fifteen people were also shot in July 2020 outside a funeral home in Gresham.
Asked about the number of people shot, Brown urged reporters to “hold off on hyperbole right now.”
“Right now, people are in there getting treated, some may be fighting for their lives,” he said. “Let’s right now treat this in the most urgent way. We’re trying to find an offender.”
All the victims were taken to hospitals with injuries ranging from critical condition to not life-threatening, police said. A 37-year-old man and 48-year-old man were in critical condition, police said.
A woman was struck by a car while trying to escape the shooting, police said. She was in fair condition with scrapes on her body. No one was in custody.
Brown said the shooting was captured on police surveillance video, which investigators are reviewing. Detectives were also waiting for victims to finish being treated so they can interview them.
“We don’t know enough about this, whether it involved a gang conflict or some personal conflict yet,” Brown said hours after the shooting.“And obviously we’re deploying extra police resources in the area to make sure that we can prevent any retaliation if that’s something that’s real.”
A reward of up to $15,000 is being offered for information leading to charges or conviction. Anyone with information was asked to submit a tip to cpdtip.com.