BACK OF THE YARDS — Shooters using a semi-automatic rifle riddled a Back of the Yards home with bullets Wednesday afternoon in an attack that injured no one but struck fear in neighbors and the area's alderman, who was on the block when shots rang out.
Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) was doing the mundane work of an elected official when someone opened fire on a house in the 4300 block of South Marshfield Avenue around 1:30 p.m.
Lopez said he was in the alley when it happened.
"I was looking at illegally dumped tires, as fate would have it," Lopez said. "That's when the 40 shots rang out."
Lopez said he called police and then came around to the scene, where he saw officers in tactical gear swarm. He said he knew the weapon was an assault rifle because of the noise it gave off and the size of the bullet casings left at the scene.
The shooters targeted a three-flat building that is home to eight children, according to residents of the building. Bullets riddled a wooden porch in the front of the house, and they also flew through windows into living rooms in at least two of the homes.
Lopez called the incident "absolutely terrifying" and said it highlights the violence that interrupts the daily lives of many hardworking Chicagoans. He said the use of a semi-automatic weapon is even more concerning.
"This speaks to the heart of the gang culture we're trying to address," Lopez said. "We're seeing an increase in the amount of these deadly weapons used."
The Wednesday shooting may have been gang-related, Lopez said. He said police are looking to see if the shooting was related to two previous shootings, including a Memorial Day Weekend shooting at 47th Street and Ashland Avenue that authorities believe also involved a semi-automatic weapon.
A 17-year-old was at home with his mother and 13-year-old brother in the second-floor unit of the building that was targeted. The teen, who asked that his name not be printed, said he wasn't the target and said he didn't know why the building would be in the crosshairs of gang members.
"It's a war out here," he said. "These guys come from over [east], come over here shooting."
The teen said he had just awakened when the shots rang out. He said he thought at least one of the guns used in the shooting was an AK-47.
"I went to the bathroom, and I heard this bomb," he said. "You could hear two different noises. They were shooting with two guns."
The teen's mother, Delia, said the shooting scared her enough that she considered leaving Chicago.
"I don't know how we'll be able to sleep," she said.
Back of the Yards residents have spoken out against the violence that has gripped the area. After a spike in shootings during the first three months of 2016, local leaders asked Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to help crack down on gangs.
Lopez used the Wednesday shooting to call on national leaders to reinstate an assault weapons ban so that incidents like this don't happen again.
"Whether it's in Orlando or here in our own communities in Chicago, there's no place for assault weapons in our society," Lopez said. "We must explore every constitutionally available avenue at our disposal to get these guns off the streets."
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