Late Thursday night, a pickup basketball game at Cornell Square Park on Chicago's South Side ended abruptly when someone opened fire on the crowd, wounding 13 people. Yesterday, police confirmed that the gunman was packing a military-grade assault rifle.
Shell casings found around the blood-soaked basketball courts at Cornell Square Park were of the kind typically ejected from AK-47 rifles and rarely found at the scenes of gang attacks on the city's South and West sides. Though gun violence long has plagued impoverished neighborhoods here, offenders almost never use military-style weapons.The shooting took place in the Back of the Yards neighborhood on West 51st Street, roughly four miles southwest of US Cellular Field/Comiskey Park. Police believe the shooting is gang-related. The Black P. Stones and Gangster Disciples have a long-running dispute in the area, though neither claims it as their turf. They also think that as many as three people were involved. Although this neighborhood is gang-infested, it's not part of an "impact zone" that officers use to tamp down crime.
"It's a miracle there has been no fatality," police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said at a news conference Friday. "Illegal guns, illegal guns, illegal guns drive violence. ... A military-grade weapon on the streets of Chicago is simply unacceptable."
Among the victims was three-year-old Deonta Howard. He was hit with a bullet that went into his ear and exited through his cheek, mangling one side of his face. He'll live, but he'll need plastic surgery. He's currently in critical condition at Mount Sinai Hospital. Other victims suffered some pretty gruesome wounds--one was shot in the abdomen and another in the butt.
When Mayor Rahm Emanuel got wind of the shootings, he cut short a trip to the East Coast and flew back to Chicago, where he spent 40 minutes with Deonta's family. He'd been meeting with several cabinet members and had also planned to attend a rally for Cory Booker.
This is yet more evidence that military-style assault rifles and high-capacity clips have no place on our streets.