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Emanuel asks ‘tough questions’ about Garfield Park fieldhouse shooting

Two teens were shot, one fatally, outside the Garfield Park fieldhouse late Thursday. | Justin Jackson/ Sun-Times

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been accused of “victim shaming” for citing an absence of “values” and “character” in the African-American community after a weekend bloodbath earlier this month that left 71 people shot, 12 of them dead.

But that didn’t stop the mayor from asking what he called “tough questions” after a 13-year-old was charged with aggravated use of a weapon by a person under 21 in connection with a shooting that left a teenager dead and another wounded outside the Garfield Park fieldhouse last Thursday.

“Police are doing their job . . . I want to also talk about us investing in our kids, investing in after-school [programs], summer jobs. But, we also have to ask some tough questions. Who provides a 13-year-old a gun? Why does a 13-year-old go to a basketball game [with a gun] that’s held in a Park District facility when kids are having fun?” Emanuel said Monday.

The shooting happened after a basketball tournament at the fieldhouse. Around 9:10 p.m., officers responded to a call of of a large fight inside the park district facility in the first block of North Central Park Avenue, police said.

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71 shot — 12 fatally — in Chicago weekend violence

While officers broke up the fight and tried to disperse the crowd outside, shots were fired, police said.

Kenwon Parker, 15, was struck in the chest and pronounced dead at Stroger Hospital, according to police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office. The Homan Square resident was a student and football player at Marshall High School.

Also, a 14-year-old boy was shot in the abdomen and taken to Stroger in serious condition, police said.

The 13-year-old was taken into custody after the shooting. Police said Saturday that the boy was charged because he was carrying a gun, but they’re still investigating who fired the fatal shots.

After announcing a milestone in the city’s street-lighting initiative, Emanuel told reporters he spent part of his Sunday visiting the mother of the wounded 14-year-old, who attends Christ the King Jesuit College Prep.

He also talked to Kenwon Parker’s mother.

Emanuel pointed to the family values he saw on display over the weekend at Gately Park and Roosevelt Square.

“I saw people of all different backgrounds, all walks of life, coming together investing in our kids . . . You would have been proud of the kids, proud of their parents, proud of the grandparents. Proud of the neighborhood. That’s the real Chicago,” he said.

“But we also have to ask the question: Who gives a 13-year-old a gun to take to a basketball game and changes the trajectory of that child in a hospital that was today supposed to start Christ the King school and basketball practice? We’re gonna ask all the questions and we’re gonna make sure that every question gets answered.”

A video posted to Facebook — filmed by someone in a passing car — shows dozens of people milling about outside the Golden Dome in the first block of North Central Park around 9:10 p.m. Four shots can be heard before the person in the car ducks and the driver speeds off as people scream in fear.

Three security guards worked Thursday night’s game, part of a league for teens ages 13 to 18, officials said.

Sterling Tate, one of the referees at the tournament, said Friday that the games were organized by volunteers.

“We give the kids that don’t have anything else these platforms, and then kids that have nothing to do with basketball ruin things,” Tate said, adding that it “seemed like there were 1,000 kids” outside the field house.

Contributing: Sam Charles