A Chicago Public Schools Safe Passage worker was seriously wounded in a shooting Thursday morning in Austin on the West Side.
The 29-year-old man suffered a gunshot wound in his back about 8:15 a.m. in the 5600 block of West Corcoran, Chicago police said.
He was taken in serious condition to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood.
The victim was stationed along the Safe Passage route to Edward K. Ellington Elementary School, 243 N. Parkside Ave., about a block south of the shooting scene. The site is near a bustling intersection and by the CTA Green Line station at Central.
Immediately before the shooting, a light-colored sedan pulled up to Corcoran and Central, Police Sgt. Cindy Guerra said. A man got out of the car and began shooting. He left the scene in the car, a Nissan Altima with dark windows.
Police believe the worker was not the intended target of the shooting.
James Owens, who was working at a Shoe Shine King a few doors from the intersection, said he heard 13 or 14 gunshots from inside the store. Owens, 56, said the worker had manned the corner since the school year began.
“This is very disheartening because we have made so many improvements in this area. Police had a very strong presence,” said Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th), who was at the scene Thursday.
Six people were shot at the same corner in March 2017. One man died from his injuries.
At the time, a grocery store on the corner was the site of “illicit activity,” Taliaferro said.
The store closed several months ago, Taliaferro said, after city inspections and what he called “a community effort.” Since then, the situation on the corner had improved, the alderman said.
“[The store] had been the source of a lot of our problems in the area,” he said.
“In this ward, we have had about seven murders [so far this year], when typically around this time its 20, 25. But one instance is enough to strike you, especially when it’s someone out here dedicated to our children getting to school safely,” he said.
“We need to gather as a community to talk about how we can keep this community safe. I would be very concerned if I were a resident, and I know they are. At the same time, we want to make sure we calm any fears by having a strong police presence in the area.”
Taliaferro said he would talk to CPD’s 15th District commander about having a police squad stationed at the corner as it had been in the past.
Officers were canvassing the area for witnesses and reviewing video from nearby surveillance cameras, Guerra said. Taliaferro called on anyone with information about the shooting to speak to police.
Marshall Jones, 71, who lives on Central near the site of the shooting, said the corner only rarely saw more serious violence, but was sometimes the site of “spats” between teenagers.
Mildred Swafford, a community representative on Ellington’s Local School Council who sent six children to the school, said she was generally comfortable with the safety of children walking through the area, in part thanks to Safe Passage workers.
“Safe Passage workers are around that school all the time, and don’t have any problem. Ellington is doing its job,” Swafford said.
CPS CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson said in a statement that officials “are devastated by this senseless act that harmed a member of our CPS family, but we are grateful that the injuries were non-life threatening. We are thankful that no students were in the area when this occurred, and we are sending a crisis team to support the school community.”