Three teenagers shot outside Marquette Park alternative high school

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Bits of police tape remain on the fence outside Camelot Excel Southwest HighSchool, where three teenagers were shot on Friday afternoon. | Tina Sfondeles/Sun-Times

Three teenagers were shot outside a Southwest Side alternative high school in broad daylight Friday — the second shooting outside a school in two days.

The teens were shot as they stood outside Camelot Excel Southwest High School near 70th and Washtenaw in the Marquette Park neighborhood about 12:50 p.m., police said.

Someone with a gun fired shots from a gangway across the street, striking the three: a 17-year-old boy shot in the torso; a 17-year-old girl with a graze wound to the ankle; and a 15-year-old boy, also with a graze wound, police said.

All three were taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where the 17-year-old boy was listed in serious-to-critical condition, officials said. The other teens were listed in good condition.

The alternative option school — for students ages 16-21 — is connected to St. Adrian Catholic Church, and adjacent to McKay Elementary School.

All students were sent home for the day about 1 p.m., with some able to stay for after-school activities.

Parents of students at the adjacent elementary said they were terrified to hear about the shooting.

“These are little kids over here. Why are there people standing around here with guns?” Robert Flowers, 59, said while picking up his two grandkids from McKay.

Flowers said he frequently sees young men outside the schools: “Why aren’t they in school?” he asked.

Janeen Jones lives across the street from Excel. She said she saw a group of young boys loitering near her home and called the school with complete descriptions.

When she came back home later Friday, she learned of the shooting.

“This is terrible. What are we supposed to do? The people that aren’t involved in the violence; the people that are innocent, that want to do something; the children who want to grow up and not be a part of this. It’s so sad,” Jones, a mother of four, said.

Jones is a local school council president at McKay. She said she’s a community activist and frequently engages with the young men who aren’t in school and may be up to no good: “I tell them I pray for them,” she said.

A sign on her porch reads, “We watch and we pray.”

Camelot Education CEO Todd Bock released a statement, saying: “We are heartbroken over this senseless act of violence against three teenagers who were standing outside our school. This is a very emotional and painful time for the entire staff that works so closely and cares so much about kids in our community.

“We strive to keep our campuses safe, including safe corridors to and from school. But as this tragic incident shows, we can’t prevent someone with a gun and no conscience from this kind of attack on the street. It is a testament to our staff that they were out there and were able to administer immediate first aid.”

Police are continuing their search for the gunman, but no one was in custody Friday afternoon.

Betty Howard, who lives across the street from the school, said she was at home reading her mail when she heard about three gunshots. She said she waited a few moments before looking out her front window — “to make sure there wasn’t anybody else out there,” she said.

When she did finally look out her window, she saw, “teachers and the students were running inside the school.”

Howard said she heard at least one person screaming, but didn’t see anyone injured or see who might have fired the gunshots.

Howard, who has lived in the neighborhood about 20 years, said she didn’t recall any previous problems at the school.

Bock said Camelot plans to “build on our strong relationship with our local community to do all we can to make sure a horrible episode like this does not happen again.”

A shooting on Thursday afternoon outside Bowen High School and Baker College Prep left a 14-year-old boy — a Baker student — in critical condition. Police are questioning a person of interest in the case.

Contributing: Stefano Esposito and Luke Wilusz


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