Ahead of what is typically one of the most violent weekends of the year in Chicago, at least two children have been critically hurt in separate shootings, police and fire officials say.
Chicago police say that a 9-year-old girl was one of two people injured in a shooting in the city’s East Chatham neighborhood on Thursday afternoon. Just a few hours later, five people were hurt in a shooting in Englewood, including an infant who was critically injured.
This before the Fourth of July weekend gets underway, with Chicago police stepping up enforcement efforts to try to crack down on gun violence.
“It’s not the holiday weekend yet and people started shooting and the next thing you know, there’s a child shot and it’s a mother’s worst nightmare,” Pastor Donovan Price said.
Relatives of 9-year-old Mikyla James gathered outside Comer Children’s Hospital on Thursday, hoping and praying that the girl pulls through after she was shot in the head while riding in a vehicle.
“The family should be looking forward to getting together for holiday festivities, but instead they’re getting together at the emergency room,” Price said.
Surveillance video from a nearby gas station showed the moment that a person got out of a white SUV near the intersection of 79th and Maryland and began firing. The girl, who was sitting in the back seat, was hit in the head, and another person was hit in the foot during the shooting.
The girl’s mother was driving the vehicle, and sped away from the scene, trying to get her daughter to safety.
“Another mother crying, thinking that she did something wrong and that she failed as a mother, which is not the case. She was just caught in the crossfire,” Price said.
Just a few hours later, another shooting took place in the 6600 block of South Halsted Street. According to officials, at least five people were injured in that shooting, including a 1-month-old girl. The child was transferred to Comer Children’s Hospital, and is in critical condition after the shooting, according to CFD spokesman Larry Langford.
Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown says that the city will implement “a whole government approach” to combatting violence over Fourth of July weekend. He says that the strategy paid dividends over the Memorial Day weekend, when shootings were at a 10-year low, according to the department.
Officers are switching to 12-hour days, with no days off. Extra patrols have been ordered, and deployments will be bumped up in high-traffic areas, including along Chicago’s lakefront.
Brown is facing scrutiny from the Chicago City Council, who called for a special meeting Friday and urged Brown to appear, or to face a vote of no-confidence. Brown indicated that he plans to attend the meeting.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot believes the meeting is not necessary, saying that aldermen skipped a series of briefings by Brown that could have shed light on the police department’s anti-violence strategies.
"Public safety of our city is an important, serious matter," Lightfoot said in a statement. "It is unfortunate that for some, it is being used as a political wedge issue. Nonetheless, I look forward to this special meeting on Friday to provide yet another opportunity for aldermen to be briefed on our whole of government approach to public safety."
As politicians look for answers as shootings and homicides continue to outpace 2020 totals (though Lightfoot and others have pointed out that May and June saw fewer shootings and homicides than they did in 2020), community activists are calling on Chicago residents to step up, and to put down their weapons.
“This is a result of your foolishness,” activist Andrew Holmes said.