14 PEO­PLE SHOT OUT­SIDE S. SIDE FUNERAL HOME

Po­lice say group leav­ing funeral was tar­geted by — and fired back at — shoot­ers in ve­hi­cle

Chicago Sun-Times - - FRONT PAGE - BY FRANK MAIN, CARLY BEHM, SAM CHARLES AND EM­MANUEL CAMARILLO

Four­teen peo­ple were shot Tues­day evening out­side a funeral home in Gre­sham on the South Side — the largest num­ber of vic­tims in a sin­gle Chicago shoot­ing in re­cent mem­ory.

The shoot­ing hap­pened about 6:30 p.m. as peo­ple left a funeral in the 1000 block of West 79th Street, Chicago Po­lice First Deputy Supt. Eric Carter said.

Sev­eral po­lice ev­i­dence mark­ers placed near spent bul­let cas­ings were ly­ing out­side the en­trance to Rhodes Funeral Ser­vices on the north side of the block. All told, Carter said, po­lice re­cov­ered 60 of them.

The 14 vic­tims were be­ing treated at five hos­pi­tals, Carter said. Chicago fire of­fi­cials said they were listed in con­di­tions rang­ing from se­ri­ous to critical. All the vic­tims are adults, though po­lice could not im­me­di­ately pro­vide their ages.

Po­lice said they were in­ves­ti­gat­ing the mo­tive and couldn’t say yet if the shoot­ings were gang-re­lated.

Carter said a black ve­hi­cle was speed­ing west on 79th Street when peo­ple in­side be­gan “fir­ing at at­ten­dees of a funeral.” Some of those at the funeral re­turned gun­fire with those in the ve­hi­cle. The driver then turned north onto Car­pen­ter, while at least one per­son in the ve­hi­cle con­tin­ued to shoot at the fu­ner­al­go­ers.

The driver soon crashed in the 7800 block of South Car­pen­ter. Those in the ve­hi­cle ran off in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions, though one “per­son of in­ter­est” was taken into cus­tody and was be­ing ques­tioned by de­tec­tives Tues­day night, Carter said.

Sources said the funeral was for Don­nie Weathersby, 31, who was shot and killed last week in the 7400 block of South Ste­wart — about a mile and a half north­east of where

Tues­day’s shoot­ing oc­curred.

Carter said a Chicago po­lice squad car was as­signed to guard the funeral home and was parked out­side when the gun­fire be­gan.

Ar­nita Geder and Kenneth Hughes said they were in their home watch­ing TV when they heard gun­shots.

“We went out in the street and all we saw was bod­ies just lay­ing ev­ery­where,” Geder said. “They were shot up ev­ery­where.”

“We thought it was a war out here. It’s ridicu­lous all the shoot­ing that’s go­ing on out here, it re­ally has to stop,” she said.

Tues­day night, Mayor Lori Light­foot said in a Twit­ter post, “When a per­son picks up a gun, we suf­fer as a city. This can­not be who we are.

“Too many guns are on our streets and in the hands of peo­ple who should never pos­sess them,” Light­foot con­tin­ued. “These in­di­vid­u­als will be held ac­count­able. I ask that any­one with in­for­ma­tion on this in­ci­dent please come for­ward or sub­mit a tip anony­mously at http://cpdtip.com.”

Tues­day’s mass shoot­ing is among the blood­i­est sin­gle in­ci­dents of vi­o­lence in mod­ern Chicago his­tory — leav­ing a tally more akin to a bat­tle­ground in Afghanista­n or Iraq than a city street.

A mass shoot­ing in Septem­ber 2013 hor­ri­fied Chicagoans when 13 peo­ple, in­clud­ing a 3-year-old boy, were wounded in Cor­nell Park near 51st and Wood in Back of the Yards.

Six men were ar­rested in what po­lice said was an act of re­venge on be­half of Byron Champ, who had suf­fered a graze wound in a quar­rel with gang ri­vals.

Champ, who was iden­ti­fied by pros­e­cu­tors as or­ga­niz­ing the shoot­ing, fired into the park with an AK-47 while another man fired a hand­gun. Champ is serv­ing a 28year prison term, and the other five men got shorter sen­tences.

The po­ten­tial vi­o­lence as­so­ci­ated with gang fu­ner­als has drawn the at­ten­tion of the Chicago po­lice for decades.

In late 2012, a 21-year-old man was shot to death and another man was crit­i­cally wounded in a shoot­ing out­side St. Colum­banus Catholic Church across the street from A.A. Rayner & Sons Funeral Home in the 300 block of East 71st.

Hun­dreds of mourn­ers were leav­ing the church and scram­bled for cover dur­ing the shoot­ings.

Then-Po­lice Supt. Garry McCarthy said the vi­o­lence and threats as­so­ci­ated with fu­ner­als for gang mem­bers were “out of con­trol” and or­dered his of­fi­cers to ramp up sur­veil­lance of them.

Other shoot­ings in­volv­ing fu­ner­als in the past decade have in­cluded a 2007 killing out­side a funeral home on the South Side. The feds said the Ho­bos gang was re­spon­si­ble.

In 2004, a cortege for a slain Latin Kings mem­ber even stopped to let some­one in the pro­ces­sion shoot a ri­val gang mem­ber on the street, po­lice said at the time.

Tues­day’s mass shoot­ing comes just one day af­ter Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump told re­porters in the Oval Of­fice that he was look­ing at send­ing fed­eral agents to Chicago and other cities to com­bat crime.

That prompted Light­foot to say, “We don’t need fed­eral agents with­out any in­signia tak­ing peo­ple off the streets, I think, un­law­fully.”

Trump has re­peat­edly bashed Chicago as an ex­am­ple of big cities un­able to con­tain surges of vi­o­lence this year. Mur­ders in Chicago are up al­most 50% com­pared with the same pe­riod of 2019. And on May 31, Chicago suf­fered the sin­gle dead­li­est day in six decades, with 18 mur­ders. As vi­o­lence has risen in re­cent months, po­lice ac­tiv­ity has fallen, with ar­rests, traf­fic stops and street stops far be­low 2019 lev­els, a Chicago Sun-Times anal­y­sis found.

TYLER LARIVIERE/SUN-TIMES

Chicago po­lice in­ves­ti­gate the shoot­ing scene in the 1000 block of West 79th Street on Tues­day.

TYLER LARIVIERE/SUN-TIMES

Chicago po­lice in­ves­ti­gate af­ter 14 peo­ple were shot Tues­day out­side a funeral home in the Gre­sham neigh­bor­hood.

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