It was a beautiful Friday evening, and members of the Nu Church Movement had arrived to set up its mobile ministry on a vacant lot in East Garfield Park neighborhood, on Lexington Street near California Avenue.
Youth on the block had flocked to the lot and joined the church group, some playing games, some in prayer, when church leader Lavieda Stewart, 24, saw from the corner of her eye, a car drive by slowly.
Five minutes later, she heard a barrage of gunshots, looked up, and saw two men standing outside that car at the corner of California, shooting.
When the gunfire was over, 13-year-old Samuel Walker was killed and six others were wounded, according to officials.
“I immediately gathered together the kids that I had,” Stewart said. “We circled together in the grass and started to pray. I was a little in shock. I’ve never seen someone shot. But because someone was fatally wounded, we decided to get the kids we brought out of here but stick around and pray with the community.”
No one was in custody for the shooting Saturday but police said they are tracking down good leads in the case, which is believed to be gang-related.
Walker has a documented gang affiliation, police said.
Some of the other victims are also gang affiliated, police said.
Sandra Williams, Walker’s aunt, said her nephew had just finished summer school and was on his way to buy chips from a convenience store when he was shot.
She said he had just graduated eighth grade and summer school and planned to attend Manley Career Academy.
“He was a good kid. He loved basketball and swimming,” Sandra Williams said on the steps of her sister’s home on Saturday.
“This is just too much,” Williams said. “We can’t handle this.”
Williams said her nephew was on his way to buy chips from a convenience store when he was shot.
About 6 p.m. Friday, multiple people were standing in the 700 block of South California Avenue when they were shot, police said.
Walker, who was shot in the head, was pronounced dead at the scene at 6:22 p.m., the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office said. He died about two blocks from his home in 3000 block of West Flournoy Street.
A 15-year-old boy was shot in the right foot and three 14-year-old boys were each shot in the left leg, police said. A 21-year-old man was shot in the right leg and taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in serious condition, police said.
A 25-year-old man suffered a graze wound to the abdomen and was treated at the scene, police said.
“This is so sad,” said Loretta Young, 31, as tears welled in her eyes.
Young, who lives near the site of the shootings, said she was looking at a television newscast about 11-year-old shooting victim Shamiya Adams when she heard gunfire.
She said she immediately rushed to the shooting site because her 14-year-old daughter, Antoneshia, was with the church group.
“I went looking for my daughter and walked past the dead boy on street and two other bodies on the street,” Young said. “When it is your child, you will walk through a war zone. I found my daughter, and she was OK. She ran on someone’s porch.”
Young added that she knew the victims “from speaking to them on the way to school or on the way to work.”
“How can you be watching the news about the violence and it happens outside your home?” she asked. “This has to change.”
Police said they found a car nearby that they believed was used in the shooting. The vehicle appeared to be torched, they said.
The victims were among 10 people shot throughout the city Friday night. In one shooting, a 3-year-old boy was wounded while standing outside with his mother and another male about 10:10 p.m. in the 4400 block of South Sacramento Avenue, police said.
A group of two females and a male walked past them, and when they reached the end of the block, the male turned around and fired, striking the boy in the right hip and abdomen, police said.
Contributing: Luke Wilusz and Tina Sfondeles