Ryan Bush and a fellow stagehand had just left the Nederlander Theater in the Loop to grab dinner between shows late Sunday afternoon when they heard gunfire.
“There were two guys running down the alley, running westbound toward State Street, and somebody was shooting at them,” he told the Sun-Times. “My buddy ended up getting in the crossfire.”
Bush’s friend — a 55-year-old man from Elmhurst — was struck in the neck and right ear.
A second bystander was also hit, a 27-year-old man from the Gold Coast who was walking with his girlfriend, according to police. He suffered a gunshot wound to the hand.
Both men were taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in fair condition, police said. The evening performance of “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” was canceled at the Nederlander.
Police say the shooting stemmed from a robbery during a drug deal at a Taco Bell in the 100 block of North Wabash Street around 5 p.m. Two groups of people had met there and someone “implied a weapon” and robbed the others, police said.
“The people who were robbed took out a firearm and started discharging at the individuals who took something from them,” Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said at a Monday news conference. He described the victims as “unintended targets.”
The shooting happened near the Chicago Theatre. A bartender at the theater told police he saw three males running through the alley when he heard a pair of “pops.”
The bartender said he hid between trash cans and saw someone fire a handgun twice. The shooter later ditched his jacket near the State/Lake Red Line stop, according to a police report.
No one was in custody, but Deenihan said police were reviewing video to track them down.
Bush, a longtime stagehand who lives in northwest Indiana, said it was a relief to get a text message from his co-worker early Monday saying he was “doing better” after being discharged from Northwestern.
“That’s my No. 1 guy there. He’s a great guy, stagehand, been in the business for 30-plus years,” Bush said, adding that his co-worker is a grandfather “just looking to retire.”
The shooting wasn’t specifically given as the reason for canceling Sunday evening’s performance of “Moulin Rouge!” An official statement attributed it to a “disturbance.”
Police said they deployed additional resources to the Theater District.
“We will continue to monitor the area and work closely with the Cook County sheriff’s police to enhance safety in our Theater District,” the department said in a statement.