2 young girls shot outside Chicago elementary school
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Two young girls were wounded in a shooting outside an elementary school in the city's Pill Hill neighborhood Friday afternoon, Chicago police said.
The shooting occurred at about 1:45 p.m. outside Warren Elementary School at East 92nd Street and South Jeffery Avenue, police said, while students were outside enjoying a picnic to celebrate the end of the school year.
One of the victims is 7 years old. The second victim was identified by her family as Dakayla Hart, 13, an eighth grader. Her family said she turned 13 in April.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said several older students had been turned away from after school end-of-the-year events at Warren Elementary and were hanging out down the street when a vehicle approached them and a shooter or shooters opened fire on them. The older students ran back to the picnic and the gunfire followed them. Johnson said the two girls were unintended victims who were shot by that gunfire.
"We stand here now, looking at a 7-year-old and 12-year-old who have been shot at an end of the year picnic and it's just ridiculous. It's, it's-you know, it just, it angers me that these little children cannot grow up in a neighborhood and not think that gunfire is the norm. Because it's not normal," Johnson said.
"I'm telling you, though, this makes me sick. These little kids out here are out here trying to have an end of the year picnic and they get shot?" he added.
Johnson said police have the vehicle involved in the crime and the investigation is ongoing. The shooter or shooters are still at large.
Johnson said that while this kind of violence is unusual in Pill Hill, Chicago police resources will be directed into the area for the last two days of school next week in order to reassure residents.
The 7-year-old was wounded in the thigh and Dakayla was wounded in the hand, police said. Both were transported to Comer Children's Hospital. Mayor Rahm Emanuel visited with the victims and their families shortly before 3:30 p.m. at the hospital, and was visibly upset afterward.
"Those kids were out on the playground enjoying their childhood, enjoying the closing end of a school year, having a barbecue, and these gangbangers are out shooting other gang members without any regard to the consequences. There is no person in Chicago who is not disgusted by that incident. These are our kids. That is a school. That is a playground. And that is a safe sanctuary for our children," Emanuel said. "They deserve their childhood, uninterrupted by a bunch of gangbangers who don't know the difference between a school and a sanctuary."
Police have not yet confirmed the shooters or their intended targets are known gang members. The mayor became angry when asked how the remaining students at the school are doing. Emanuel left the hospital to go to the scene of the shooting and speak to students, parents, teachers and law enforcement there.
"You can only imagine what the trauma is. I haven't been there, but you can only imagine, and I know what I saw here and thank god for the love of parents and the great medical care they have and the love of the teachers and the principal. And I would hope for once when people say enough is enough, that the rest of the criminal justice system, when they're brought there, understands what enough is enough is," he said before he left
Witnesses said when gunfire erupted, teachers immediately rushed students inside as part of the school's emergency plan. They told the students to get down on the ground. In the meantime, police quickly arrived and locked down the school's campuses.
"And we saw the people, we saw two boys that had graduated yesterday, they was running and they was trying to get inside the gate, and while they was shooting, two girls had got shot," said Giara, Warren Elementary student.
Many frantic parents arrived after getting phone calls about the shooting from the school.
"My daughter just called me crying, saying they were shooting at the school and she couldn't find her brother and everybody ran, and when I got here no one knew where my child is at, no one knew where my son was at, so I had to run back and forth from building to building just to find my son," said Catherine Jones, mother.
School staff kept children in the school until parents arrived to take them home.
"Car came past, opened fire, got to shooting, kids scattered to both rooms and we were all taught get 'em in the classroom, turn the lights off, get 'em on the floor," said Debbie , teacher.