SOUTH DEERING — After a shooting at Merrill Park Tuesday left three teenagers hospitalized, some angry neighbors said they believe the neighborhood may be hopeless.
Haywood Richmond has lived in the Southeast Side neighborhood of South Deering on and off for 40 years. He sprang into action Tuesday evening when he heard eight gunshots, believing a loved one might have been in trouble, he said.
"I ran through the park. I thought my nephew was in there," Richmond said. "I came out and saw two kids laying out on the basketball court."
Richmond said his nephew usually plays in the park in the 2100 block of East 97th Street, but he wasn't there when Richmond showed up. Instead, he found two kids who'd been shot lying in one spot and another victim several feet away behind a garage.
"I tried to keep them stable. I was going from kid to kid," Richmond said. "There were other kids [in the park], so they were a big help."
Richmond said there were about 10 teenagers in the park when he arrived. They helped keep the three wounded teens calm while neighbors called police.
He said the teenagers were playing in the park when someone opened fire.
"They were just shooting ... period ... they didn't care," Richmond said.
He said a shooting in the park last year killed two people and left two others wounded.
"It used to be all the kids got along. Lately, I don't know what this is," Richmond said. "I'm pissed off. I'm totally angry and really sad they keep doing the same thing."
The teens were playing basketball in the park around 9:55 p.m. when they heard shots and felt pain, said Officer Amina Greer, a Chicago Police Department spokeswoman.
The youngest of the boys, a 15-year-old, was taken to Comer Children's Hospital in stable condition after he was shot in his leg and buttocks. A 16-year-old and 17-year-old were both shot in their legs and were taken to Christ Hospital in stable condition, Greer said.
Wednesday morning, blood stains remained on the park's basketball court as Lovie Bernard walked her dog through the park.
She said she's been in the neighborhood for more than 40 years, and the neighborhood has become depressing. Even her dog knows it, Bernard said. She said her dog "mopes" through the park as opposed to "frolicking."
"I think that this neighborhood is hopeless and depressing. The only kids that make it out are the kids who move out," Bernard said. "You are terrorized if you're not in your house before dark. I'm sick of it."
Bernard said the neighborhood has been silent as gangs fight over turf.
"The people don't come out. They don't say anything," she said. "I believe it can be stopped, but we got to step up and do it together. Are you going to let them run you?"
"It's just hopeless, and for the people getting older it's depressing," she said.