CHICAGO — Eight people were wounded after gunmen opened fire on a group of people using a party bus service Wednesday near a gas station in the Old Town Triangle neighborhood on the North Side, according to Chicago police. The shooting was at least the third with five or more victims in about six hours.
About 6 p.m., police were called to separate shootings 10 minutes apart, both in North Lawndale, one of which left a 15-year-old boy dead and a 16-year-old gravely wounded. Five people were shot at each site. Between 5:40 p.m. Wednesday and 1:40 a.m. Thursday, 27 people were shot, including three who died of their injuries, according to police statistics.
The 15-year-old boy was Damarion L. Benson, of the 300 block South Campbell Avenue, Brittany Hill, spokeswoman for the Cook County medical examiner’s office confirmed Thursday afternoon.
The spate of high-profile attacks came just days after police Superintendent David Brown announced a new 50-person team dedicated to firearm investigations, separate from a federal strategy unveiled by President Joe Biden’s administration.
Brown addressed the ongoing violence during a late-morning news conference along with Deputy Chief Brendan Deenihan, who heads the detective division, providing an update on the mass shooting investigations. They said most of those injured in the party bus shooting, specifically, were targeted when the bus stopped at a gas station for riders to use a restroom.
Brown said many of the victims have so far been uncooperative with detectives.
“We as police officers have to stand guard in these communities when they have these types of incidents where it’s targeted,” he said. “People are not cooperating who are victims, which signals to us, ‘We want revenge and we don’t want police solving this case, because we want revenge, we want to retaliate. We don’t want you taking them to jail.’ That signals to us, when you don’t cooperate, when you’re silent, that you prefer street justice. And I will just say this, street justice is never-ending. The appetite for revenge is never satisfied, it only harms, it only ruins your community.”
Officers were called to the 1600 block of North LaSalle Drive minutes before midnight to investigate the party bus shooting. Investigators said it wasn’t immediately clear whether those who were shot had been on the party bus or standing outside.
A dark gray Jeep Grand Cherokee approached the group and someone inside began shooting. Police said a black Grand Cherokee also was involved, but a description of the shooters was not released.
According to a police report, officers found a 42-year-old man, who was a security guard for the party bus, in the street in front of the bus bleeding from a gunshot wound to the left foot. Officers then saw that the party bus driver, a 52-year-old man, was bleeding from a gunshot wound to his upper left leg.
The driver, who is a CCL holder, had a pistol on his right hip and an extra magazine on his left hip but he didn’t take out his weapon during the shooting and said he didn’t see who shot him, the report said.
Police said the 42-year-old man and the 52-year-old man were both taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in fair condition.
As officers continued to secure the scene, they found a 24-year-old man who had a gunshot wound to his right forearm, which was already bandaged, the report said. He was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in fair condition.
There was also a 26-year-old woman who was shot in the leg found at the scene, the report said. She was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in serious condition.
Officers later discovered that a 27-year-old man with a gunshot wound to the chest and in serious condition was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital by his girlfriend, who refused to answer questions, the report said.
Police initially said the 27-year-old man was in critical condition.
Officers then were notified that people inside a black Toyota were at a BP gas station, in the 800 block of North Halsted Street, when they heard gunshots. After driving away when the gunshots rang out, they realized that a rear passenger, a 23-year-old man, was bleeding from a graze wound to the right groin and there was a bullet hole in the driver’s door.
The 23-year-old man was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in good condition, the report said.
A friend dropped off a 29-year-old man to Rush University Medical Center for a gunshot wound to the left arm, the report said. He told police that he was a patron on the party bus when he said he heard shots and felt pain.
The 29-year-old man was transferred in good condition to Stroger Hospital, the report said.
Police were then notified that the mother of 26-year-old woman had called for an ambulance at her home, and her mother said that her daughter was with a group on a party bus downtown that had been shot at and she was shot in the left hand. An ambulance took her to Jackson Park Hospital in good condition.
Evidence technicians found 21 shell casings on the scene, both large caliber rifle shell casings and 9mm shell casings, the report said.
Authorities initially located four victims, but that number doubled as they continued investigating, police said.
Investigators said they are hopeful they will get cooperation from people such as those two employees. They are also reviewing private surveillance as well as city surveillance cameras and asking for help from the community.
“We are in a battle for the heart and soul of some of our communities and now is the time to speak up,” Brown said. “We’re much more effective when the community speaks up and gives us information.”
Brown was joined by Pastor James Brooks from Harmony Community Church in North Lawndale, who said he lives in the community he serves and knows the people giving the area a bad reputation are in the minority, comments Brown agreed with.
“We have to be relentless. ... We are not going to ever quit on this community. We believe in the people of Chicago,” Brown said, adding that he does not want to paint everyone with a broad brush. “I’m carving out this element of the community that wreaks havoc, they terrorize people.”
Along with the 15-year-old who was killed in one of the two North Lawndale attacks, two other men were killed in an unrelated shooting about 9 p.m. in the Near West Side neighborhood, police said. The two other men had not been identified by the Cook County medical examiner’s office as of Thursday morning.
The two men were standing in the first block of North Western Avenue when a red Honda SUV drove past and someone inside the vehicle started shooting at the men, 31 and 28, police said.
The 28-year-old was shot in the head, arm and foot. The 31-year-old also was shot, but police did not have additional information about his injuries; both were taken by paramedics to Stroger Hospital, where they were pronounced dead, officials said.
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