2 teens shot, 15 arrested in Loop melee

The teens were in a large, unruly crowd fighting and dancing on cars when shots were fired about 9 p.m. Saturday in the 100 block of East Washington Street.

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Pedestrians cross the street on the corner of E Washington St and N Michigan Ave where hundreds of teens gathered Saturday night causing damage vehicles. | Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

The corner of East Washington Street and North Michigan Avenue on Sunday. On Saturday night, crowds of teens swarmed through the area. Two teens were wounded in a shooting. Nine adults and six teens were arrested.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Two teenagers were shot Saturday night as hundreds of youths streamed through downtown streets, prompting a heavy police response that resulted in more than a dozen arrests.

The boys, 16 and 17, were among the large unruly crowd about 9 p.m. in the 100 block of East Washington Street when shots were fired, Chicago police said.

The younger boy was shot in his right arm, and the other boy was shot in his left leg, police said.

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Both teens were taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where they were listed in fair condition, according to police. Authorities declined to provide any information about whether any one else was wounded.

Nine adults and six teenagers were arrested in connection with the melee. Most were charged with reckless conduct, police said.

Police recovered a gun and arrested a 16-year-old on suspicion of unlawful use of a weapon, and another adult and teen were arrested on suspicion of possessing a stolen vehicle.

None of the arrests were made in connection with the shooting of the teens, according to police.

Several videos posted on social media showed teenagers breaking into vehicles and setting them on fire.

Another video showed teens climbing and jumping on the roof of a CTA bus, and yet another showed people kicking passing cars and dancing on top of parked cars.

The CTA reported disruptions to several train lines as police flooded the area to control the crowds.

In a statement, the Chicago Police Department said its “top priority ... is the safety and security of all residents and visitors at all times in all parts of the city.”

The situation downtown involved “several large groups of juveniles and young adults in the downtown district engaging in reckless and disruptive behavior, putting themselves and the public at risk for harm,” according to the statement. “Everyone is welcome and encouraged to enjoy all that Chicago has to offer, including the popular downtown area, but criminal activity will never be tolerated.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the behavior “reckless, disrespectful and unlawful.” But she said that many were there to have a good time and enjoy the unseasonably warm weather.

“As I have said before, we as a city cannot and will not allow any of our public spaces to become a platform for criminal conduct,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “Most importantly, parents and guardians must know where their children are and be responsible for their actions. Instilling the important values of respect for people and property must begin at home.”

She said she has been in communication with police department leaders, and they have assured her “that they will make the necessary adjustments to address these teen trends issues as we move into the summer months.”

In a statement, Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson said that though he does not condone the “destructive activity” that took place downtown, it was not constructive to demonize youth who he said have been starved of opportunities in their own communities.

Pedestrians cross the street on the corner of E Washington St and N Michigan Ave where hundreds of teens gathered Saturday night causing damage vehicles. | Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Activists concerned about security downtown want Chicago police to increase patrols in the neighborhood. Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the behavior of the crowd “reckless, disrespectful and unlawful.”

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Activists concerned about the safety of their communities gathered Sunday to ask Chicago police to increase patrols downtown.

“Downtown used to be a beautiful place. You used to want to take a walk downtown, but now it’s so scary,” activist and U.S. Postal Service worker Patrick Gibbons said. “It needs to get better, otherwise people will leave Chicago.”

State Rep. Kam Buckner, who recently ran for mayor, reacted to the chaotic night on Twitter. He said “anyone with a heart” will look at what happened over the weekend “and feel disgusted, upset and pissed off.”

Buckner said difficult conversations need to be had with city leaders to come up with a plan. He accused them of being silent so far.

“It’s seems that this administration is in its ‘senioritis’ stage, but to be clear — they are still in charge. Please, leave on a strong note and don’t add to your legacy of lethargic leadership. Say something, do something,” he said.

In a statement, the Chicago Loop Alliance said it was “saddened” by the events Saturday night.

“We hope to work together as a community to find a solution that benefits Loop businesses, visitors and residents while remaining everyone’s neighborhood.”

On Friday, a 14-year-old boy was wounded in a shooting after another large group of teens gathered at 31st Street Beach. The shooting occurred about 8:50 p.m. in the 3100 block of South Lake Shore Drive, according to police. The boy suffered a gunshot wound to his left thigh and was taken to Comer Children’s Hospital in fair condition.

According to police, a 17-year-old boy who was at the beach was arrested and charged with four felony counts, including unlawful use of a weapon, possession of a stolen gun and possession of drug paraphernalia.

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