Police say words exchanged online spilled out onto the streets of a southern Chicago suburb, leaving two teens dead Wednesday and sparking a police chase that continued into downtown Chicago.
Harvey police said an ongoing feud between two groups of young men, fueled by social media, prompted a confrontation at a convenience store near 146th And Halsted in Harvey.
"There were some words exchanged," said Chief Gregory Thomas. "One of the parties attempted to leave."
Gunshots rang out at around 10:30 p.m. at the Express Drive Thru Food Mart in the 14600 block of South Halsted Avenue in Harvey, officials said.
Seventeen-year-old Taijean Hall was one of at least five people involved in the shootout. He and an 18-year-old friend were killed, his family confirmed.
"People with criminal backgrounds got into some nasty exchanges on Facebook," city spokesman Sean Howard said. "They’re going on Facebook Live, divulging their location, leaving themselves vulnerable to be targeted by gun violence. And the craziest thing: these individuals are 16 to 19 years old. They are babies! But they don't realize the negative impact social media can have that leads to physical incidents."
Howard confirmed that one of the victims was an 18-year-old who was related to Ryan Harris, the 11-year-old girl found raped and murdered in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood in a high-profile case in 1998.
"It's a sadness that just won't go away," he said. "Every few years we hear about this tragedy surrounding Ryan Harris. That family has gone through enough— to now lose another member? Those surviving members, that has to be tough."
Some of the suspects in the shooting drove away in a black Jeep, believed to have been stolen from another suburb.
State police spotted a black Jeep Cherokee matching the description of the suspects' vehicle in downtown Chicago Wednesday morning and engaged in a pursuit on the belief that it was involved in the shooting, Howard said, adding that "for safety reasons," that chase was called off.
According to authorities, three guns have been recovered, and two individuals involved in the shooting have been apprehended. Police say that three more peopel are still on the run.
Family members of Hall pleaded for the suspects to turn themselves in, saying "we want peace, no retaliation."
"I tried my best with him," said his father, Courtney Hall. "There’s only so much you can do. You’re fighting against the environment, people, negativity."
Police also asked for the community's help in finding the gunmen.
"This is like a wild spreading virus, gun violence," Thomas said. "In due time, it’ll hit your doorstep if you don’t step up."
Police assigned a team of investigators to examine criminal activity on social media over the last few days, Howard said.
No one is in custody in connection with the shooting as authorities continue to investigate.