CHICAGO — Katrina Sparks was picking up her 6-year-old daughter from her West Side elementary school Thursday afternoon when gunfire erupted.
It was 3 p.m., and the Penn Elementary School's kindergarten and first grade classes were being dismissed. Sparks said parents began yelling for teachers to lock the doors.
"They were banging on the door saying 'Don't let the kids out! Don't let the kids out! They're shooting,'" Sparks said.
Across the street, a teenager had been shot in the chest and slumped to the ground on the curb. Sparks, who lives just down the street, decided to scoop up her daughter and make a run for it.
"I covered my daughter's eyes up because as soon as we came out the building, you could see him right there," Sparks said. "He wasn't moving. I just ran."
Police said the 18-year-old man who was shot had no affiliation with the school and was not wounded on school grounds. The teen was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in serious-to-critical condition, according to fire officials, who said he was 20.
The West Side school, located at 1616 S. Avers Ave. in North Lawndale, was put on lockdown after the 18-year-old was shot, police said.
Chicago Public Schools officials could not confirm the school was put on lockdown, but witnesses said the school was closed and students were later escorted outside in two shifts by police.
Some older students had just returned from a field trip when the shooting happened. Students who were in the lunchroom at the time said they heard five to seven shots.
"From my own eyes, I seen him sitting on the ground with his shirt off," one seventh grader said of the wounded man. "He was shot, bleeding."
The school was locked down for about 20 minutes before students began being dismissed. Police said the lockdown was part of police protocol. After it was lifted, police monitored two separate dismissals.
Teachers, students and parents stood around for hours following the shooting, watching as police investigated.
Sparks said experience rattled her.
"It's terrifying," she said. "It's scary as hell."