Two people were wounded by gunfire down the street from an elementary school in Little Village where classes had just gotten out Tuesday afternoon.
No students at Finkl Academy were injured, but classes had ended 15 minutes earlier and many students were standing around the school building in the 2300 block of South Western Avenue.
“It’s just sad that you have to be thinking — after school, at such a young age — what should I do once they start shooting,” said a teacher who did not want to be named.
The shooting happened just after 3 p.m. A 17-year-old boy suffered a gunshot wound to the hand and was stabilized at Mount Sinai Hospital, police said. A second victim, a man, went to the same hospital, but his condition was not available.
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At the scene, officers placed at least seven evidence markers on the street in front of Donald’s Famous Hot Dogs, directly across from the school.
The teacher was about to drive away in their car when there were two long rounds of gunfire and students ran in a panic.
“A lot of the kids were saying they feel like this is going to be a bad summer, and it’s just sad because the kids look forward to summer,” the teacher said.
Jesse Huerta, the violence intervention manager at Enlace Chicago, said the shooting happened at a gas station near the school and stemmed from a “historical beef” between entrenched gangs in Little Village, sending “a good amount of kids” running for cover.
“Some of our Safe Passage team pulled the young ones into hiding in some of the stores that are there,” Huerta said, referring to members of his staff tasked with helping kids get home from school safely.
One of the victims has been involved with his organization, which specializes in street outreach work but also offers legal aid, mental health services and other programming to residents of the largely Hispanic community, Huerta said.
Members of his team quickly responded to the hospital to meet with the teenager’s family, he said.
Huerta said his group works to set up “safe spaces” in Little Village, but he complained that violence prevention workers are stretched particularly thin in the area – something Chicago Police Supt. David Brown recently acknowledged while discussing surging violence in the community.
“CPD is not able to control it and they’ve got thousands and thousands of officers,” Huerta said. “We’ve got 16 people in Little Village working on the ground.”