HUMBOLDT PARK — A boyhood friend of a man shot Thursday afternoon said he could feel the wind from the gunshots that "whizzed past" him and left his friend in serious condition.
Dennis Johnson, 46, said he was standing with his friend, Michael Booker, and two other men under a lightpost on the corner of Thomas Street and Springfield Avenue around 4:30 p.m.
A man in a rust-colored Carhartt jacket emerged from a vacant lot and fired six shots at the group, and Booker, 28, took a bullet in the back that exited his chest, Johnson said. Booker then collapsed in the street, Johnson said.
The shooter later fired three more shots at two men in Johnson's group as they tried to run.
"I felt bullets going right past my head," Johnson said. "I've never been that scared in my life — I could've got hit."
All four men initially tried to run when the shots rang out, but at 6-foot-1 and nearly 400 pounds, Johnson said he had no illusions he could flee fast enough.
"I ducked down and covered my head," he said. "Then I heard [Booker] say, 'I got hit.'
"I just kept talking to him — trying to keep him calm," he added.
Booker was taken to Stroger Hospital in serious condition, according to police, who could provide no other details other than to confirm the shooting took place. No arrests had been made in the incident as of Thursday evening.
Johnson said he hadn't seen Booker, a huge sports fan, for several years, but had "watched him grow up" since Booker was a baby. Booker viewed him as an uncle, Johnson said.
Johnson, an unemployed father of three and longtime resident of Chicago who now lives in Oak Park, said he hopes to move completely out of the Chicago area after the Thursday incident.
"I can't take it," he said. "They sell drugs on that corner — all these corners. You can't stand nowhere — the violence is anywhere you go now.
"That's why I try to cherish life every day," he added.