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16-Year-Old Girl Caught in Crossfire While Walking to School in Humboldt

By  Paul Biasco and Kelly Bauer | February 11, 2016 9:45am 

 A shootout between a U-Haul and another vehicle in West Humboldt Park Thursday morning left a 16-year-old girl wounded on her walk to school, police and neighbors said. 
West Humboldt Park Shooting
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WEST HUMBOLDT PARK — A shootout between occupants of a U-Haul truck and another vehicle in West Humboldt Park Thursday morning left a 16-year-old girl wounded on her walk to school, police and neighbors said. 

At 8:30 a.m., the girl was walking in the 1400 block of North Kildare avenue when she was shot in the right leg, said Officer Janel Sedevic, a Chicago Police spokeswoman, citing preliminary information.

The shooting was a block from West Park Academy of Fine Arts and Technology.

Passengers in a U-Haul truck and another vehicle were shooting at each other as the U-Haul was chased through the neighborhood, witnesses said Thursday. The U-Haul then crashed into a parked car, damaging at least four vehicles on Kildare. 

Witnesses said the chase started a few blocks south of where the girl was shot on Kildare and ended when the U-Haul with two people inside ran into a vehicle in the 1400 block of Kildare.

The girl, wearing a backpack about a block away from West Park Academy, was struck by a stray bullet, witnesses said. She lay on the sidewalk with a gunshot wound in the leg until paramedics arrived, but her injuries did not appear to be life-threatening, according to Nelson Ocasio, a bystander who said he arrived a few minutes after the shooting.

The girl was taken to Illinois Masonic Hospital in "stable" condition, Sedevic said.

Witnesses said they heard the U-Haul's tires squeal when the chase started and gunshots being fired from the vehicle throughout the short chase. 

A bullet hole could be seen in the U-Haul's front windshield.

Ocasio said he saw police take the driver of the U-Haul into custody, but a second man fled the scene. Police could not immediately confirm that, however. 

Ocasio said the police recovered a large duffel bag a block away from the scene, which the second passenger in the vehicle had fled with.

Ocasio captured video of police confiscating the bag, which he said he assumed was full of drugs. 

Neighbors on the block were outraged, especially given that the shooting took place during the morning while children were walking to school. But they said a lot of drug deals happen in the area.

"Why are they shooting in the morning?" asked 40-year-old Crecia Vinson. "The kids go to school — that's the time they're walking. All the kids on this block go to school there."

Vinson grew up in West Humboldt Park, but moved away for most of her adult life. She moved back five years ago and lives on the block where the shooting occurred along with her 16-year-old daughter.

"When I got older I moved back, and it's just terrible," Vinson said.

Vinson's vehicle was severely damaged when the U-Haul crashed, leaving her wondering how she would pay for repairs.

Rio Johnson, a 30-year-old who witnessed the chase, called for an end to violence in the neighborhood, urging everyone to drop the guns.

"There's a lot of crime, but this is a good neighborhood for the kids," Johnson said.