A 16-year-old girl was among five people seriously hurt in a shootout that erupted early Sunday after a crowd gathered near a Lawndale elementary school to mark the death of another teenager who was killed by gunfire two years earlier.
The wounded, ranging in age from 16 to 33, were on a sidewalk in the 800 block of South Karlov Avenue around 1:30 a.m. when a fight gave way to the exchange of gunfire, Chicago police said.
Shell casings and at least 97 evidence markers could be seen scattered in the street and around the corner outside Daniel Webster Elementary School. A police source said three different types of bullets were used in the firefight, including a caliber used in AK-47s and other rifles.
The teenage girl was shot in the back, a man and woman, both 21, were shot in the left arm, and a 33-year-old man was shot in the face, officials said. They were all taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in serious condition.
A second 21-year-old man was shot in the left side of the body and taken to Stroger Hospital, also in serious condition, police said.
Sharon Tillman, a retired 63-year-old, said she was awoken by the incessant sound of gunfire. “It sounded like it had a switch or something because it kept going,” she said.
Though she’s lived on the block for much of her life, Tillman said shootings have become more common and have inched closer to home in recent years. She said the gunfight broke out during a “repast” commemorating the anniversary of the death of another gunshot victim named “Zara.”
A flyer advertising a “Zara Day” party on Saturday had been circulated on social media to mark the killing of Lazarra Daniels, an 18-year-old woman who was gunned down in nearby West Garfield Park as protests and looting roiled the city on May 31, 2020 — the single most violent day in Chicago in six decades.
But a 44-year-old woman who lives in the neighborhood also noted the shooting happened during “a little celebration” around the anniversary of another attack. She said she’s becoming inured to the violence.
“It’s not something that you’re shocked about,” said the woman, a former state worker who declined to give her name. “We’ve been around here in this city long enough to know. … Only thing you do is pray just to make sure nobody gets hurt and hope that nobody is dead.”
She blamed the number of guns flooding the streets and the lack of opportunities for young people to have a good time — issues that have come up in light of the mass shooting at a Texas elementary school last week and Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s efforts to clamp down on young people causing trouble downtown.
“They have nothing to do, nowhere to go, and then you listen to … rap music and they think this is the thing,” she said. “I’ve done been around these kids and watched a lot of them grow up. They are good kids.”
She added: “We’ve gotta find something for them to do because this is what it’s gonna lead to. Because they don’t have no activity. Everything is shut down. Y’all shutting them down, and y’all trying to box them in. It’s not gonna work.”
As kids played around the corner, Kenya Evans worked the grill in her front yard and got ready for a Memorial Day get-together.
A longtime resident of the Near North Side, the 44-year-old said she moved to Lawndale only a couple years ago and treads lightly in her new neighborhood, checking the Citizen app for crime alerts and keeping close watch over her young family members.
Her fear isn’t misplaced. The West Garfield Park community area, which includes Lawndale, is the second-most violent in the city, according to a Chicago Sun-Times analysis. The area had seen 48 shooting or homicide victims so far this year through May 27, down 30% compared to last year and 29% compared from 2020.
Evans said she was at a party Saturday in her old neighborhood and hadn’t heard about the toll of the overnight shooting. But as she tended the grill, the specter of violence lingered like the smoke.
“It’s everywhere you go. Everywhere you go. As soon as it get hot, that’s what they do.”