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Chicago park shooting leaves 13 wounded, including 3-year-old boy

12:38 PM, Sep 20, 2013   |    comments
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CHICAGO (CBS) -- A 3-year-old boy who was among 13 people wounded in a late-night attack on a southwest Chicago park was alert when he arrived at the hospital and was apparently doing well, his family and friends said early Friday.

The attack late Thursday in the city's Back of the Yards neighborhood left three victims, including the boy, in critical condition. The others were reportedly in serious or fair condition.

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said all 13 victims at the park sustained non-life-threatening injuries and that the boy was expected to survive.

In total, 19 people were shot citywide Thursday, leaving one dead and 18 others hurt, the police said.

McCarthy said an assault-style weapon with a high-capacity magazine was used in the park attack. Given the type of weapon used, it was "a miracle" that no one was killed at the park, he said during a Friday news conference.

No arrests have been made.

The first wave of violence broke out after 6 p.m. with four people being wounded by gunfire, CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds reports from Chicago. The second wave after 10 p.m. required more than 60 police officers and 10 ambulances to respond.

As bullets began to fly at Cornell Square Park on Chicago's South Side, people scattered, taking cover wherever they could, police and witnesses told CBS Chicago station WBBM-TV.

The child's uncle, Julian Harris, told the Chicago Sun-Times that dreadlocked men in a gray sedan shot at him Thursday night before turning toward the nearby park and opening fire. He said his nephew was shot in the cheek.

Investigators believe several people were involved but that it wasn't clear yet whether more than one person opened fire, McCarthy said. Based on witness interviews, it appears the attack was gang-related, he said, adding that several victims were gang members.

Harris identified the boy to WBBM-TV as Deonta Howard. Relatives told WBBM-TV that Deonta was at the park with his mother.

"They hit the light pole next to me, but I ducked down and ran into the house," Harris told the newspaper. "They've been coming round here looking for people to shoot every night, just gang-banging stuff. It's what they do."

The boy's grandmother told WBBM-TV that Deonta's uncle was one of eight people murdered in the city over Labor Day weekend.

This latest outbreak of violence comes on the heels of an FBI report released just this week branding Chicago as the murder capital of America with 500 murders recorded in 2012. That's even more than New York City, which has three times the population of Chicago.

McCarthy said weapons like the one used in the attack belong on a battlefield, not on American streets, and that laws are needed to restrict such weapons.

The shooting comes nearly three weeks after Chicago saw an outburst of violence over the Labor Day weekend that ended with eight dead and 20 others injured. Chicago's police superintendent has said that overall violence is down so far this year compared to 2012, when the number of homicides topped 500 for the first time since 2008.

Following a surge in homicides and shootings last year, the police department stepped up its crime-fighting efforts by, among other things, paying overtime to add patrols to some neighborhoods, including the Back of the Yards. Through the first six months of the year, the department's more than $57 million on overtime pay for officers, more than half of it from a program that saturates dangerous neighborhoods with hundreds of officers every night.


"Senseless and brazen acts of violence have no place in Chicago and betray all that we stand for," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement Friday. "The perpetrators of this crime will be brought to justice and prosecuted to the full extent of the law."


One of Thursday's victims transported himself to a hospital, police said. Among the 13 victims were at least two other minors, ages 15 and 17.


The 3-year-old boy was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital. Hospital officials declined to disclose his condition, but fire officials said the boy's condition was critical.


The Rev. Corey Brooks, a pastor at New Beginnings Church, spoke with family members outside the hospital and said the boy was resting with his mother.


"He was talking when they first brought him in, but he's heavily sedated now," he said.


"They say he's good," said Semecha Nunn, the boy's grandmother. "They going to have to do a little plastic surgery on him, but he's OK."


Francis John, 70, said she was in her apartment when the shooting occurred. She said she went down to see what was going on and "a lot of youngsters were running scared." A 30-year resident, she said she was surprised by what had happened.


She told the Sun-Times there hasn't been much gun violence in the neighborhood in recent years, adding the neighborhood went from good to bad 10 years ago, to better recently.

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