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Bystander In Critical Condition After McKinley Park Drive-by, Police Say

By Erica Demarest | June 13, 2017 3:59pm | Updated on June 13, 2017 7:48pm
 Police said a 24-year-old woman was shot in her abdomen in the 2100 block of West 33rd Street.
McKinley Park Shooting
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UPDATE: An earlier version of this story reported the shooting happened in the 3200 block of North Hamilton Avenue in Roscoe Village. Police now say the shooting took place in the 2100 block of West 33rd Street in McKinley Park.

 

MCKINLEY PARK — A 24-year-old bystander is in critical condition after being shot in a McKinley Park drive-by Tuesday afternoon.

The woman was walking in a yard in the 2100 block of West 33rd Street about 2:35 p.m. when someone inside a car opened fire — shooting the victim in her abdomen.

Police said the woman, who was taken to Stroger Hospital, was not the intended target.

One witness spotted a silver car chasing a gold SUV shortly before the shooting. The woman, who went by Jasmine and wouldn't provide a last name, said it's become increasingly common for gang members to chase one another with guns in the area.

Residents gathered near 33rd and Leavitt streets Tuesday afternoon as dark clouds rolled in and it started to rain. Behind police tape, officers photographed at least five shell casings in the street.

"Look at all those shell casings," longtime resident Mike Jovanovic, 48, commented as he walked his dog past the scene. "It's a damn shame."

Jovanovic has lived in McKinley Park for 42 years. It's where he and his wife raised their children. In recent months, the Navy veteran said he has noticed an uptick in gang activity and graffiti "tagging" on garages.

"Shots fired. Shots fired. Shots fired," he said. "That's becoming more and more of a regular thing. But during the day? It's ridiculous."

Two longtime residents who live on Leavitt and asked not to be named for safety reasons said they're looking to move because they don't feel safe letting their children play outside.

One man said he regularly calls 911 when he sees "people who don't belong" in the neighborhood — but won't see a police response for two or three hours.

"Police don't respond. They don't come here," he said. "They're quick to respond when there's a shooting — but it's too late by then."

Several residents, all of whom asked not to be named due to safety concerns, attributed recent violence in the otherwise quiet neighborhood to gang activity. Groups of young men throw gang signs and congregate at a nearby empty house, one couple said.

As police investigated Tuesday, a man clad in a grey shirt and baseball cap bicycled past the crime scene at least three times in 20 minutes.

One neighbor nodded toward the cyclist and said it's common to see gang "lookouts" cruising through the neighborhood.

"I was just telling [my neighbor] it's time to move," one man said. "We just don't want this [area] to get like Back of the Yards. It seems like it's coming this way. It sucks."

Jovanovic said he's felt safer since he and his wife got guns and concealed-carry licenses — but still plans to move once his youngest children graduate high school.

"We're fortunate enough to protect ourselves," the Navy veteran said. "But this is hitting too close to home. [When you leave the military], you want to come home to something peaceful, and this is a war zone."

Police on Tuesday initially reported the shooting as having happened in Roscoe Village. Officers then told reporters it happened in the 3200 block of South Hamilton Avenue. Police would later inform reporters the shooting actually happened in the 2100 block of West 33rd Street.

A portion of 33rd Street between Leavitt Street and Hamilton Avenue was cordoned off Tuesday afternoon.

Contributing: Tanveer Ali