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Two Men, Not the Shooters, Charged in Back of the Yards Mass Attack

By  Mark Konkol Emily Morris and Josh McGhee | September 23, 2013 9:09am | Updated on September 23, 2013 10:01pm

 Three-year-old Deonta' Howard was shot in a Back of the Yards park Thursday night.
Three-year-old Deonta' Howard was shot in a Back of the Yards park Thursday night.
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Getty Images/Scott Olson and Rev. Corey Brooks

CHICAGO — Two men have been charged in last week's Back of the Yards shooting that wounded 13 people, including a 3-year-old boy hit in the face. But neither is believed to have pulled a trigger that night, police said.

"While both offenders played a significant role in the shooting, neither is believed to be a shooter, and investigation into the incident continues," the Chicago Police Department announced in a statement of the charges against Byron Champ, 21, and Kewane Gatewood, 20, both of Chicago.

Both men are charged with three counts each of attempted murder and aggravated battery with a firearm and are due in court Tuesday.

"Chicago Police detectives continue to work tirelessly to solve this case and hold the criminals who committed this senseless act of violence last Thursday night responsible for their actions," Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy announced in a statement.

"These charges are just the beginning, and this investigation remains ongoing at this time," McCarthy stated.

Police have said possibly more than one person opened fire on the crowded basketball court at Cornell Square Park in the 1800 block of West 51st Street Thursday night.

One of the gunmen was using a military-grade assault weapon with a high-capacity clip. The shell casings found on the scene suggested the rounds were fired from an AK-47, police said.

The city was left reeling after the mass shooting, which happened during a basketball tournament about 10:15 p.m. Thursday and was later described by police as gang-related.

One of those charged Monday, Champ, is described by police as a documented gang member convicted for unlawful use of a weapon by a felon. He was convicted in July 2012 and sentenced to boot camp at the Cook County Department of Corrections, police said.

McCarthy uses every opportunity to stress the need for tougher laws dealing with repeat felons caught with guns, including a three-year mandatory minimum sentence for illegal gun possession, a sentence that would have kept Champ locked up after his conviction last year.

"Not only do we believe a military-grade weapon was used in this shooting, but one of the offenders charged tonight was convicted of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon/possession of a firearm by a felon little more than a year ago," McCarthy said.

"He received boot camp for that gun crime and was back out on the streets to be a part of this senseless shooting," McCarthy said. "That is unacceptable. To truly address violence for the long term, we need state and federal laws that keep illegal guns out of our communities and provide real punishment for the criminals who use them."

Cornell Square Park is situated between two police "impact zones" that were flooded with Chicago police this summer.

After the shooting, McCarthy called it a "miracle" that nobody died.

McCarthy said Friday that the bullets could have come from as many as three shooters.

He said police had received a "ton of cooperation" from witnesses.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel canceled a Friday meeting in Washington, D.C., and flew back to Chicago after the incident.

"The perpetrators of this crime will be brought to justice and prosecuted to the full extent of the law,"  Emanuel said.