Shooting of 14-year-old girl believed linked to conflict between new and old gangs in Back of the Yards

‘Seeing them graduate to shootings is unfortunate,’ Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) said of the younger rival.

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A 14-year-old girl shot in the head Wednesday in Back of the Yards is another victim of Chicago’s gang violence.

A 14-year-old girl was shot June 2, 2021, in Back of the Yards. Sources say the shooting was linked to an ongoing conflict between two gangs.

Anthony Vázquez / Sun-Times

The shooting of a 14-year-old girl in the Back of the Yards is believed to be linked to an ongoing conflict between a long-entrenched gang and one that is relatively new to the area, according to Chicago police sources.

The girl, who remains in critical condition, was with her boyfriend in the 1700 block of West 48th Street when members of the Party People walked up Wednesday evening and asked what gang she belonged to, according to Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th), who said he got those details from police.

The seventh-grader said she was not in a gang but a relative belonged to the rival Almighty Saints, Lopez said. One of the gang members fired twice, hitting her in the head.

“It was 100% gang-related,” the alderman said.

A classmate of the girl said the Party People had been moving into the area recently, with members in high school and middle school in the Southwest Side neighborhood. 

The classmate said she has seen them on the block where the girl was shot, talking to young people about the new gang.

“She was friends with everyone and tried to be if she could, even people who were affiliated with the old and the new gang,” the classmate. “I think it’s related to that.”

Lopez said the Saints have decades-long roots in Back of the Yards and are believed to be responsible for much of the violence, including the 2018 shooting of an agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who was doing surveillance of a house near 43rd and Wood streets.

Saints member Ernesto Godinez is serving a 200-month federal prison sentence for the shooting.

Lopez said the Party People are relatively new to the area, with a stronghold at 47th and Damen, a half-mile from where the 14-year-old was shot. A video posted on YouTube about a year ago showed Party People members taunting the Saints.

The members are young and have been involved in vandalism, the alderman said. “They’ve been a nuisance more than anything,” he said. “Seeing them graduate to shootings is unfortunate.”

While the Back of the Yards neighborhood has seen a sharp drop in homicides from last year, residents said there have been more shootings recently. Lopez said officers are keeping a close eye on the neighborhood to prevent retaliatory violence.

Police have released few details of Wednesday evening’s shooting, including a description of the gang members and the SUV they fled in. It may have been a Chevy Tahoe, a police spokesperson said.

The girl was taken to Comer Children’s Hospital in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the head, police said. She underwent surgery that night.

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