The Chicago officers who saved an infant struck by a bullet Monday night had to make a quick decision—break protocol and take the baby to the hospital or risk letting the infant become another victim of the city’s gun violence.
“When we arrived on the scene it was very chaotic,” said Officer John Conneely. “We were approached by the woman carrying the 11-month-old who was bleeding and crying, screaming and everything like that and with no ambulances on the scene we decided to make the decision to get this child to the hospital as quickly as we could to try to save his life.”
The shooting happened just after 7 p.m. near 53rd and Aberdeen in the Back of the Yards neighborhood as a family was returning home from an outing earlier in the day. Five people were shot, including the young boy, his mother and his grandmother.
The grandmother, Lolita Wells, and the mother, Patricia Chew, who family members said was two months pregnant, were both killed.
“You have two generations within one family taken away from planet Earth and you have an infant shot,” said Tio Hardiman, president of Violence Interrupters. “This is just crazy.”
The infant, identified by relatives as Princeton Chew, is expected to recover from his wounds thanks to the quick action taken by the responding officers.
“It was just kind of a split second decision that you know maybe we need to take action right now or maybe if we wait the outcome wouldn’t be as positive,” said Officer Michael Modzelewski.
It’s against protocol for the officers to remove victims from the scene, but the officers said that wasn’t their focus.
“I related to my partner to take the keys because I was holding the baby,” Modzelewski said. “We got in the back seat of the car and I had put pressure on the baby’s wound and we got to the hospital as quick as we can.”
Other officers helped closed streets for the squad car as it made its way to University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital.
"No matter how many times you see a scene like that you never get used to it," Conneely said.
Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said officers are pursuing some “promising leads” in the investigation into the shooting, but no one was in custody as of Tuesday afternoon.
Community outrage is coupled with horror for many who witnessed the scene.
“I had to take care of five people on the ground, going people to people because I got to make sure I at least try to help them,” said Monique Williams, a nurse and relative of the victims.
Family members said children in the area, including Chew’s 4-year-old son, witnessed the shooting.
“My concern is getting some help for these two young babies who saw their grandma go down, saw their auntie go down, mommy laying down,” said Ruthie Carpenter, who is currently caring for the 4-year-old boy.
Within hours, five other people were shot, three of them fatally, during a barbecue in the Fuller Park neighborhood. At least 14 people were shot within 15 hours in Chicago from mid-day Monday to early Tuesday morning. The shootings come after a particularly violent weekend that saw four people killed and at least 52 others injured.