‘A nightmare.’ 11 of the 14 people wounded in East Garfield Park were relatives who had gathered to remember a loved one
“It was like they were just aiming at us, which is crazy because you couldn’t see anything but kids and women,” said the woman who organized the vigil. “We are so hurt.”
The vigil Monday evening in East Garfield Park was meant to be a brief moment of joy for a family in mourning.
Relatives of Shakia Lucas sent red, white and black balloons into the air just after 8 p.m., then remained on the corner of California and Polk, catching up and sharing memories of the 38-year-old who had died just days earlier.
As they chatted, children played around them, running back and forth between the corner and a Halloween party down the block. Then suddenly, a car pulled up and gunmen opened fire on the crowd, seemingly at random.
“It was a nightmare from there,” said a woman who identified herself only as Mrs. Patterson, a close cousin of Lucas.
Fourteen people were struck by gunfire, including Patterson and 10 of her relatives: a sister, an aunt, and cousins.
One cousin was holding a baby and tossed her to safety as they fell to the ground, Patterson said.
“Get the baby. I’m hit! Get the baby,” the cousin shouted.
Three young cousins — 3, 11 and 13 — were all seriously wounded. The 3-year-old was struck four times, she said.
“My little cousin went through surgery, and before he was going through surgery he was so scared, saying, ‘Momma, I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die,” Patterson said. “That’s so heartbreaking.”
Patterson was shot three times and got out of the hospital Wednesday evening, stopping off at a vigil at the site of the shooting before going home.
She struggles to make sense of why someone would target them.
“It was like they were just aiming at us, which is crazy because you couldn’t see anything but kids and women,” Patterson said. “We are so hurt.”
“Whoever was the shooter, or shooters, you all hurt our family, and this is something we will never, never forget,” she said. “These kids … we are traumatized. How do you do that to a 3-year-old baby, to an 11-year-old kid to a 13-year-old boy?”
Chicago Police Supt. David Brown, who was at the vigil, had few answers for Patterson. Brown told the crowd that investigators were pursuing strong leads and were viewing video from the scene and elsewhere.
“You did not get away with this,” Brown said, though he had no other details to release, including any description of the shooters. A $15,000 reward is being offered for information.
The shooting happened in one of the city’s most violent police beats. Four people were shot near that corner July 7.
The neighbor who threw the Halloween party on that block said she worried about the group staying around on the corner.
“I told them. I kept telling them to go home,” she said. “They decided to hold a vigil, and it turned all wrong.”
Patterson said she wanted to remember a dear cousin who had recently died.
Lucas had received a kidney transplant years ago but the organ was failing, Patterson said, so she underwent surgery to prepare for at-home dialysis.
Patterson said her cousin was sent home after the procedure but did not feel right. The next morning, she returned to the hospital and died.
Just weeks earlier, the family gathered to remember the life of Lucas’ mother — Juanita — who died Oct. 8.
“Our family is suffering,” Patterson said. “We did nothing to deserve this. My family should not be going through this pain.”
“I was responsible for orchestrating the candlelight, getting everything in order for the funeral,” she said. “And now I’m in pain, and I’m suffering even more.”