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1 block, 9 Shot: Residents Forced Indoors After Repeated Attacks

By Darryl Holliday | July 10, 2013 8:23am
 Neighbors say what began as a Facebook beef has escalated into nearly a week of continuous shootings on the 2800 block of West Flournoy Street in Garfield Park.
A Week of Consecutive Shootings has Forced a Community Indoors
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EAST GARFIELD PARK — On a small stretch of road on Chicago's West Side, the shootings didn't stop for at least three days.

Neighbor accounts differ slightly on whether the consecutive streak of bullets began on July 2, exactly one week ago, or during celebrations around July 4, but everyone on the block seems to know the victims of the "continuous" gunfire near the 2800 block of West Flournoy Street.

"It's like a war zone," said Tonya Harris, a former resident of the block who stops by regularly to visit friends and family. "It's continuous — it's like there isn't going to be an end."

At least nine people were shot on the block during the long July 4 weekend in which at least 62 were injured and 11 people died in shootings citywide. Two men, Steve Mabins and Terry Patterson were killed there within three days.

 Tonya Harris said nearly a week of daily shootings, two fatal, has driven residents on one Garfield Park block indoors.
Tonya Harris said nearly a week of daily shootings, two fatal, has driven residents on one Garfield Park block indoors.
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DNAinfo/Darryl Holliday

Some residents said it all started with a post on Facebook.

Others said the shootings center on a two-story building on the southeast corner of Francisco and Flournoy. It's the home of a 72-year-old grandmother — a white house where Patterson was killed, and the elderly woman known as "Mrs. Corine," was shot, along with six others in a drive-by attack Saturday.

Bobby Jean Curry, Patterson's sister, said the slain man had lived in the neighborhood nearly all of his life. Afflicted with seizures to the point of disability, the 48-year-old grandfather was known to help neighbors when he couldn't work a job, Curry said.

Harris knew Patterson from childhood. He was "stopping to do a guy a favor" by fixing his boat at the corner house when he was caught in crossfire, she said.

"I heard about seven or eight shots, and I knew it was trouble," Harris said. "There was a brief pause. ... Then it was on again."

Several other residents of the block tell a similar story. Kira Jones, 14, said she heard as many as 12 shots. Another neighbor recounted hearing 10.

Rumors quickly spread that a comment on Facebook may have started the hail of bullets. Chicago detectives would not confirm any Facebook connection, citing the ongoing investigation.

"Everybody is indoors now," Harris said. "We heard it was a Facebook post that started all this, but we can't get it down to what or who. On Facebook, it's all, 'I say this, you say that,' and it escalates and explodes.

"All of these shootings happened in broad daylight, but when it happens you're still in shock," she said.

From the scene of Saturday's bloodiest shooting on the corner of Flournoy Street, the family of the elderly woman who was wounded said she's doing better physically, but has since retreated into her home instead of her front porch, where she was known to sit regularly before the attack.

Sabrina Woods, the elderly woman's daughter-in-law, said the former Rockwell Gardens resident was safer in the Chicago Housing Authority's East Garfield Park public housing project that was torn down in 2006.

"I'm sure this [neighborhood] wasn't her first choice," Woods said regarding her mother-in-law's move from Rockwell Gardens to Flournoy Street. "Someone needs to help her get out of here. She's a prisoner in her own home."

The 72-year-old was hit about 6 inches above her ankle, and has since been reluctant to even check her mail, Woods said.

A few discarded drug baggies could be seen littering the corner Tuesday — several busts for heroin and crack have been logged around the home by Chicago police this year.

Young men gather around the house regularly, said one neighbor, who feard being identified and withheld her name.

The neighbor, a woman with two sons, said she can't afford to draw attention to herself. When her sons aren't being kept in the house in order to avoid the corner, they leave the neighborhood entirely to spend time with friends.

She said she heard the gunfire that killed Patterson and wounded seven others Saturday night. The shots were loud and unmistakable even on the Fourth of July, she said.

"It sounded like OK Corral," she said.

But she was wary long before the rash of shootings that lasted through the weekend. She's been going out of her way, typically walking a full block around the white corner home, when grocery shopping and running other neighborhood errands, she said.

It'll be time to renew the lease for her home soon, and her landlord is asking whether she'll re-sign at $1,100 per month.

"I don't even know if I want to stay in the neighborhood," she said, taking another look at the corner building down the block.

The violence in Garfield Park continued Monday when 15-year-old Ed Cooper, whose mother said he wanted to be a police officer in order to "clean up the streets," was shot dead near the playground of Ryerson Elementary School.

Cooper's devastated mom was left wondering whether her son could have made a difference.

"He just said he [was] gonna make the community right, but the community killed him," she said.