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Mayor, superintendent plead for help in shooting of 15 outside funeral in Gresham

“Someone listening at this moment knows who is responsible for these and other crimes,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Wednesday. “I recognize there is fear. But if we are silent, the violence will continue.”

Chicago police investigate the scene where 15 people were shot Tuesday night in the 1000 block of West 79th Street.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

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, double-digit 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.”

Contributing: Sam Kelly, Frank Main, Carly Behm, Sam Charles, Emmanuel Camarillo