Mayor, top cop plead for in­for­ma­tion on shoot­ers

St. Sabina of­fers $15K re­ward for help lead­ing to ar­rests

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY FRAN SPIELMAN, CITY HALL REPORTER Con­tribut­ing: Sam Kelly, Frank Main, Carly Behm, Sam Charles, Em­manuel Ca­mar­illo fspiel­man@sun­ | @fspiel­man

A vis­i­bly shaken Mayor Lori Light­foot on Wed­nes­day joined police of­fi­cials in plead­ing for wit­nesses to tell police what they know about a shoot­ing out­side a gang funeral that left 15 peo­ple shot and about the shoot­ing of a 3-year-old as the child’s par­ents were driv­ing away after a fight at a gas sta­tion.

“This is a mourn­ing morn­ing. An­other day that we start with de­spair. An­other day we start with re­port­ing on vi­o­lence that has struck a neigh­bor­hood,” an ex­hausted Light­foot told re­porters at City Hall.

“We can­not give the killers, the shoot­ers, any shel­ter. … Some­one lis­ten­ing at this mo­ment knows who is re­spon­si­ble for these and other crimes. … I rec­og­nize there is fear. But if we are silent, the vi­o­lence will con­tinue. … This is our time to step up.”

The Tues­day night shoot­ing at a gang funeral in Auburn-Gre­sham pro­duced the largest num­ber of vic­tims in a sin­gle Chicago shoot­ing in re­cent mem­ory.

Police warned

The founder of Moth­ers Against Sense­less Killings, a South Side vi­o­lence preven­tion group, said Tues­day night she had warned police as re­cently as that morn­ing about the po­ten­tial for shoot­ing at the funeral.

“We saw some­thing, we said some­thing ... the com­mu­nity spoke up and this still hap­pened,” Ta­mar Manasseh said.

A police tac­ti­cal team was in the area prior to the shoot­ing, along with two squad cars. The re­sponse is the same for all gang fu­ner­als and would have been the same even if police had not been warned that the funeral might trig­ger a re­tal­ia­tory shoot­ing, police Supt. David Brown said.

Manasseh said she’s es­pe­cially con­cerned be­cause the shoot­ing hap­pened just over a mile south­west from where her group, MASK, has built a school that will care for chil­dren whose par­ents are es­sen­tial work­ers.

“Peo­ple in the neigh­bor­hood were scared be­cause they made a video say­ing they’re killing moth­ers, they’re killing kids, they’re killing old peo­ple, they don’t care, they’re killing ev­ery­body,” she said.

Among the vic­tims, one re­mained in “ex­tremely crit­i­cal con­di­tion,” Wed­nes­day, while an­other vic­tim is in crit­i­cal con­di­tion, police said.

Nearly 60 shell cas­ing were re­cov­ered from the shoot­ing scene. Police are work­ing with the shoot­ing vic­tims. But they des­per­ately need ad­di­tional wit­nesses to come for­ward, he said.

The mayor said she woke up Wed­nes­day morn­ing more de­ter­mined than ever to break the cy­cle of gang vi­o­lence in Chicago and bring hope to young men who be­lieve their fu­ture “lies on the cor­ner” sell­ing drugs.

“To the cowards be­hind these shoot­ings, we have to ask you to find your hu­man­ity,” the mayor said.

“This cy­cle of re­tal­i­a­tion ... solves noth­ing, but causes so much life-long pain. I pray for you. But I also pray that we find you.”

Re­ward an­nounced

Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, Rev. Michael Pfleger an­nounced his church, St. Sabina, is of­fer­ing a $15,000 re­ward — $1,000 for each vic­tim of the shoot­ing — to any­one who pro­vides in­for­ma­tion that will lead to an ar­rest.

St. Sabina, a few blocks from the scene of the shoot­ing, of­fers a day camp for chil­dren. Pfleger said he couldn’t help but think of the kids who had to walk past the crime scene to get to the church — and their ex­po­sure to such trauma.

The neigh­bor­hood’s “got stores clos­ing, boarded up build­ings, high poverty, dou­bledigit unem­ploy­ment, lack of in­vest­ment, COVID-19, peo­ple afraid of the police, afraid of the com­mu­nity,” Pfleger said. “Vi­o­lence be­comes just an ef­fect of all of that.”

TYLER LARIVIERE/SUN-TIMES Chicago police block traf­fic near the scene where 15 peo­ple were shot Tues­day.

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