Residents and business owners are on edge after a group of assailants unleased a flurry of paintballs in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood on Tuesday, sending customers at a sushi restaurant scrambling for cover.
According to authorities, the incident occurred near the intersection of Division and Wolcott at approximately 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Surveillance footage showed customers on an outdoor patio and standing in front of the restaurant ducking for cover after an individual opened fire with a paintball gun.
“Everyone was laying down and hiding under the tables,” Sushi Taku manager Angel Zhao said. “It’s very scary. A few of our customers left without eating because they were scared.”
Zhao said one woman was struck in the foot and was bleeding from the wound, but no one was hospitalized.
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After the attack near the restaurant, the assailants also shot at a cyclist near Damen, with paintballs still visible on the walls outside of another restaurant in the neighborhood.
Neighbors are upset about the shootings, but they’re far from alone. Last fall, more than 280 paintball attacks were reported in the city, with numbers increasing as Halloween approached, and authorities are trying to combat a similar surge in incidents this year.
“It makes it kind of crazy that it’s 2021, as if there’s not enough going on,” one neighbor said. “I could be on a peaceful walk, and someone can shoot a paintball at me. That’s pretty scary.”
Police say a separate incident left a woman hospitalized in West Town after she was hit in the face with a paintball while sleeping on a bench. She was treated and released.
Witnesses have been unable to provide a description of the vehicle involved in the shootings, and police are continuing to comb through surveillance footage.