CHICAGO — After five loud gunshots rang out on her South Shore street Tuesday night, Sharniece Hudson did what she always does: went outside to see who had been hurt.
A 51-year-old woman lay on the ground, bleeding from a gunshot wound in her thigh. A few feet away, the woman's two grandsons huddled against an apartment building — standing still, quiet, "in shock."
Hudson quickly grabbed the kids, ages 3 and 5, and put them in her car.
"I didn't want them to see their grandmother on the ground like that, or to be cold," Hudson said.
Shots had been fired at the three about 8 p.m. as they walked along the sidewalk in the 2500 block of East 78th Street, police said. According to neighbors, the gunman was on foot and targeting someone else.
Police said they could not immediately provide details about the shooting.
Back in her car, Hudson said she thought the 5-year-old boy was a little too quiet as he lay in her back seat. She unzipped his jacket, lifted up his shirt and saw he'd been shot. Police said a bullet went through his abdomen and lower back.
After an ambulance took away the 5-year-old, Hudson held his 3-year-old brother in her arms. She soon realized he'd been shot too. A bullet had struck his right shoulder, she said, but she missed it when she checked for blood.
Hudson said the boys seemed scared. They cried and asked for Band-Aids.
"I was about to get upset, but I needed to calm myself down for the kids' sake," she said. "I didn't want to scare the babies."
Both boys were taken to Comer Children's Hospital, where they're listed in stable condition, according to police. The grandmother is in critical condition at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
On Wednesday morning, residents of the block cleaned blood stains from the street with hot water, scrub brushes and bleach.
Hudson called shootings in the neighborhood "normal," especially during the summer.
"It's going to get worse when it's warm," she said. "You hear gunshots all the time, but you never see little kids get shot."
Quia Cook, a 34-year-old mother, said she heard the gunshots in her apartment a block-and-a-half away. She had never heard a gun that loud before.
"I told my [8-year-old] daughter to get down on the floor, but she was already down. She knew what to do," Cook said, adding that "It's hell" to have to teach such young children how to handle shootings.
"We don’t want to live like this. We didn’t ask to live like this. We didn’t sign up to live like this," Cook said. She said that many in the neighborhood want to move, but can't afford to.
Eileen Billingsly, 60, said she grabbed her cellphone to call 911 after she heard the shots. She peered out her window and saw the grandmother in the street yelling "I've been shot! I've been shot!"
As she cleaned blood from the sidewalk Wednesday morning, she lamented: "You can't walk down the street any more and be safe? People have to walk their kids to school."
Billingsly said her daughter and grandkids recently moved away from South Shore to avoid the violence. It's common for people to hop from area to area as shootings increase, she said, but "I'm a senior. I can't be moving around and jumping like that."