Considering they were all black, would this not be ethnic
Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said it was a
"miracle" no one was killed when someone opened fire with a high-
powered rifle at a pick-up basketball game in the Back of the
Yards, and he renewed his call for a ban on assault weapons.
"A military-grade weapon on the streets of Chicago is simply
unacceptable," McCarthy told a news conference this morning, 12
hours after a 3-year-old boy and 12 other people were shot
during at Cornell Square Park.
"It's a miracle there has been no fatality," he said. "Illegal
guns, illegal guns, illegal guns drive violence."
Police say at least one gunman walked up to the park's
basketball court in the 1800 block of West 51st Street around
10:15 p.m. Thursday and opened fire. Thirteen people who were on
the court or were watching the game were hit, many of them in
the arms or legs.
The boy, Deonta Howard, was standing on the court and was shot
near the ear, the bullet exiting through his cheek, according to
police and relatives. His family said the boy is expected to
recover but will need plastic surgery.
Three of those wounded, including Deonta, were in serious to
critical condition this morning. The others ranged from serious
to good condition, including a 15-year-old boy and a 17-year-old
Police believe the shooting stemmed from an ongoing dispute
between the Black P. Stones and Gangster Disciples, a law
enforcement source said.
It was not known if any of the victims were intended targets,
but McCarthy said "there were members of gangs on the scene and
there were gang members among the victims." McCarthy said at
least 16 rounds were fired and there could be as many as three
The park is in an area considered by Chicago police to be a
"high gang conflict area", but it is not in an impact zone
flooded by officers to deter crime, McCarthy said. The nearest
impact zones are three blocks to the north and three blocks to
The park was slated to close at 11 p.m. McCarthy said the
residents had a right to be outside on a warm September night
and enjoy a basketball game. "This is not something we can
accept and say is OK in a civilized society," he said.
Witnesses described a burst of rapid fire. "I think it was like
an AK," said one neighbor. "Man, it was a lot of shots. Man,
boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. A little boy got hit in the face."
Another neighbor said he heard as many as 20 shots. "I was
across the park and I heard the shots and I came over and there
was a lot of people down. It happened so fast. They were just
playing ball, like they do everyday."
The first paramedics found more than a dozen people lying across
the rust-colored court. One person lay near a bicycle that was
on its side. A pair of white gym shoes were left near an out-of-
Ambulances continued to arrive a half hour after the shootings
as wounded people were brought out of the park on stretchers.
About 60 police officers converged on the park and crime lab
investigators combed the scene. Witnesses say Deonta was the
first to be carried away.
He was taken in critical condition to Mount Sinai Hospital,
police said. Family members said the boy nicknamed Tay Man,
will need plastic surgery.
�He tried to get up and go, he�s not trying to be pinned down by
nobody,�� Nunn said.
�He�s not your average 3-year-old," Nunn said.
"He�s very smart, he�s beyond his years. I don�t know if you�ve
heard the saying, 'He�s an old soul.' That�s the best words to
describe him. He�s an old soul, said family friend, Erica Lewis.
�He's friendly for the most part, very outgoing, outspoken,��
Nunn said. �He likes the limelight, he�ll let you know who he
The boy's older brother, Jamarrie Toney, 9, returned to the park
with his aunt this morning and said he still hasn�t seen his
brother. �I just miss him,�� he said.
Jamarrie, whose favorite subject at Beethoven Elementary is
math, said he was at his aunt�s home across the street when he
heard the shots.
�I just got up and ran to this gate,�� Jamarrie said, pointing
to the edge of the park. �My younger brother was on the floor,��
he said, crying.
One of the other victims, a 37-year-old man shot in the leg,
said he hanging out around the basketball court, as he and his
friends normally do, when the shooting started.
�I turned around, I heard screaming,�� he said. �I saw Tay Man."
He paused. �I just saw his face.�� He struggled again for words.
"Just tore off. . .They almost shot his whole face off.��
The man, who asked that his name not be used, smoked a cigarette
as he leaned on a cane after being released from the hospital.
Medical tape held down a piece of cotton gauze on his left arm,
and he was missing the shoe from the leg where he had also been
Asked if he was angry, the man replied, �I�m just grateful,
grateful to be alive.��
Mayra Rodriguez, 23, who lives in the area with her 2-year-old
daughter, heard rapid gunfire and then saw people on the ground.
�Good thing most of them got hit in the legs,�� she said.
�That kid was playing, he didn�t even know nothing, it was out
of nowhere,�� she said of the 3-year-old.
Rodriguez said there was a fatal shooting in the park about two
years ago, and she tries to avoid it.
Rodriguez and her mother, Elvia Gonzalez, 45, said they had
heard gunfire earlier in the evening, around 4:30 p.m. or 5 p.m.
Rodriguez said her daughter was playing outside at that time and
Gonzalez grabbed the girl and ran inside the house.
As the two talked Thursday night, the 2-year-old girl walked
toward the street from the parkway and peered around the corner
toward 51st Street to watch the last ambulance leave. She rested
one hand on her mother�s leg as she chewed a finger.
Earlier, as her mother spoke, the girl twirled around a light
pole. She wore tiny gold hoop earrings, purple pants and a red T-
shirt that read, "My heart belongs to Grandpa."
�She don�t even know. . .She�s just pointing at the light,��
Alejandro Cabada, 20, leaned out of his second-floor window near
50th and Wood streets about an hour after the shooting. He said
he�s lived in the area for about seven years.
�Once I opened a beer can, I heard shots,�� Cabada said. �I
opened the fence in the back. They reversed up the alley and
then toward Ashland, the car peeled out.��
�A brown Malibu with tints dipped toward Ashland Avenue. . . A
brown Malibu with its lights off was peeling off,�� Cabada said.
�Some young kid said they shot his little brother.
�That was pretty much it, I just seen bodies on the floor, I
seen three officers carrying the little boy. I didn�t hear no
Relatives said the boy's uncle, Jerome Wood, was fatally shot in
the Woodlawn neighborhood over the Labor Day weekend. The Rev.
Corey Brooks, who presided over Wood's funeral, urged the
shooter or shooters to surrender or face justice on the streets.
There are people who know exactly who the shooter is," he said,
standing next to Nunn. "And I'm sure he will not be safe
shooting 13 people."
As dawn broke today, broken glass could be seen strewn across
the basketball court, along with discarded medical supplies,
syringes without needles, plastic packaging, orange gloves and a
But as of 8:15 a.m., the court had been cleaned up by personnel
from Fire Engine 123.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel was headed back to Chicago from Washington,
D.C., where he was scheduled to meet today with Obama
administration Cabinet secretaries on city issues, mayoral
spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton said. Emanuel flew to D.C. last night
ahead of swing that also was supposed to include a political
fundraiser for Democratic New Jersey U.S. Senate candidate Cory
Emanuel also released a statement this morning about the Back of
the Yards shooting. "Senseless and brazen acts of violence have
no place in Chicago and betray all that we stand for. The
perpetrators of this crime will be brought to justice and
prosecuted to the full extent of the law. I encourage everyone
in the community to step forward with any information and
everyone in Chicago to continue their individual efforts to
build stronger communities where violence has no place," the
Before Thursday night's shooting, eight children under the age
of 8 had been shot in Chicago over seven weeks.
Police listed the victims as:
� A 3-year-old boy, shot in the ear, in critical condition at
� A 17-year-old girl, shot in the foot, condition stabilized at
Holy Cross Hospital
� A 15-year-old boy shot in the arm, stabilized at Holy Cross
� A man, 27, shot in the leg and wrist, serious condition at
� A man, 24, shot twice in the stomach, serious condition at
� A man, 21, shot in the leg, serious condition at Mount Sinai
� A man, 41, shot in the buttocks, serious condition at John H.
Stroger Jr. Hospital
� A woman, 33, shot in the shoulder, condition stabilized at
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
� A man, 31, shot in the buttocks, condition stabilized at
� A woman, 23, shot in the foot, condition stabilized at St.
� A man, 37, shot in the leg, in good condition at Stroger
� A man, 25, shot in the knee, in good condition at Northwestern
� And a man, 33, who drove himself to Little Company of Mary
Hospital in Evergreen Park with a gunshot wound to the leg and
who was treated and released.