Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Friday blamed too many guns on city streets and parents not keeping track of their children for a week of violence in Chicago that culminated Thursday night with a mass shooting outside a McDonald’s restaurant and CTA station on the Near North Side.
Teens and young people have fought “since the beginning of time,” Lightfoot said at an unrelated news conference, but “the difference now is too many of them have guns and this is exactly what we saw last night.”
Parents need to know where their young people are, Lightfoot said. “That is the thing that has got to stop,” the mayor said.
Lightfoot also again called for a visible police president downtown, including fixed posts at the corner where the shooting late Thursday took place and at the Chicago Avenue stop on the CTA Red Line.
While some need to be held accountable for bad actions, most Chicago young people are “beautiful” and will lead the city through innovation and smarts, Lightfoot said.
“Nothing that’s happened in the last week changes that truth,” the mayor said. Still, too many youths have said they need to carry guns to feel safe, Lightfoot said, and that needs to be addressed.
“You have a ticking time bomb in your hand, in your pocket, in your purse,” she said.
The mayor also said the McDonald’s in question had been closed by midday Friday as city inspectors had found electrical violations at the site.
The mass shooting started with a brawl among two groups of people left two killed and seven wounded late Thursday, blocks from the Magnificent Mile. One person was in custody.
Another person was injured on the rail line at the nearby CTA Red Line subway, police said.
The shooting happened about 10:40 p.m. in the 800 block of North State Street outside the Chicago Avenue subway station and a McDonald’s at 10 E. Chicago Ave., Superintendent David Brown said at a news conference Friday morning. One person started firing a gun into a crowd of people during a “personal conflict” outside the fast food outlet, then the shooter and others fled into the Red Line station where one person was injured on the third rail of the Red Line tracks.
The McDonald’s and nearby blocks have been a hot spot off and on over the past few years. And the shooting comes with increased attention already being paid to violence in the larger downtown area as summer approaches. Brown said there was a revolving post near the scene that was able to capture the shooter and a nearby POD camera captured the entire scene outside.
The city had been shocked earlier in the week by the fatal shooting of a teenager near The Bean in Millennium Park. It was unclear what role new rules that went into effect Thursday closing Millennium Park to unaccompanied minors might have played in moving groups of young people to other parts of downtown, although police leaders downplayed that connection.
The 18th District, where the McDonald’s is located, has seen an increase from 5 to 15 shooting victims this year through May 18, according to official police data. That total is expected to jump after Thursday night’s shooting.
The mayor also resisted any call to call out the National Guard to deal with violence on city streets, as the city saw during days of unrest two summers ago. The main issue is juveniles with guns, the mayor said again, not any issue that military strength could address.
“If they do, it is when, not if, a tragic consequence is going to follow,” Lightfoot said of young people carrying guns for protection.
As of early Friday, police had arrested one person and recovered a gun from the scene of the attack. The dead have not been identified yet and police released no further details about the victims.
Brown said another person was also detained for obstructing officers from making an arrest, and police believe that a third person, who has not yet been identified, handed the shooter the gun.
Police are working with prosecutors to charge the possible shooter, Brown said. Police are “confident our officers captured the shooter and recovered the weapon used.”
Brown acknowledged the corner has historically been a problem area, but blamed the gun fire on the easy availability of guns.
“This is a gun crime crisis in our city and our country,” Brown said. Because someone in the crowd who was involved in the argument had a weapon, gunfire erupted.
“We are awash in guns,” Brown said.
Brown also rejected the idea the Millennium Park limits on youths played into the shooting or the moving of the gathering place for younger people downtown. He noted the corner has been a “longstanding” problem spot.
“It’s not based off anything related to Millennium Park,” Brown said, including the use of police resources there compared to other places in the center of the city.
Brown again also blamed the court system in gun offenders receiving lower bonds with putting more alleged criminals back onto the streets. Top judges and legal experts have question that correlation.
The two who have died include a still-unidentified male who was shot in the chest was pronounced dead at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and a 31-year-old man shot in the back who was pronounced dead at Stroger Hospital, police said.
The most seriously wounded appeared to be a 19-year-old man shot in the chest who was listed in critical condition at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, police said.
Other survivors were described as a 46-year-old woman shot in the left leg; a 17-year-old boy shot several times all over his body; a 30-year-old man grazed in the abdomen and shoulder; a 29-year-old man grazed in the flank; a 31-year-old man shot in the hand and a 21-year-old man shot in the leg.
The police department “is hard at work to make sure those responsible for last night’s incident are held accountable, for the safety and well-being of us all,” Lightfoot said in an earlier statement.
Brown said police had, in fact, instantly created a fixed post in the area and at the CTA station in question, in addition to roving units.
Paramedics responded and took five gunshot victims and one burn victim to area hospitals, said Chief Juan Hernandez, a spokesperson with the fire department.
One victim was in “grave” condition and the other gunshot victims were all in serious to critical condition, Hernandez said.
They were taken to Illinois Masonic, Stroger, and Northwestern Memorial hospitals, Hernandez said.
A Red Line train traveling through the area was stopped between stations while authorities searched for a weapon in the subway’s rails, Hernandez said, adding the department evacuated the CTA passengers at about 11:30 p.m.
Shortly before then, responders were seen removing people — at least two who appeared to be badly injured — from an area between the McDonald’s and the subway entrance on the northeast corner of State Street and Chicago Avenue.
Amid the chaos of the shooting’s aftermath, a woman yelled at an officer standing near the station entrance, “What hospital? My brother got shot!”
As paramedics and officers worked the scene a fight erupted between two people across the street. Shortly after 11:15 p.m. a group crossed a line of police tape and argued with officers before they were pushed back.
Two women were among those taken away on stretchers. One was sitting up and silent as paramedics lifted her into an ambulance.
Deonna Jackson, 18, had come downtown to hang out with her friends.
“I was getting off the train and I spotted a group of teens fighting,” Jackson said. “The teens started rushing towards me and they’re all attacking one person — they were jumping someone.”
”I’m kind of used to that happening right here, but I just don’t involve myself.” Jackson separated herself from the tussle and “made it to the corner.”
That’s when a girl approached her, asked what was happening and then asked Jackson for her help, explaining that she was trying to find her friend who may have been involved in the fight.
But then someone in a white car pulled up to them and she “found her people,” said Jackson, who began making her way to the 7-Eleven across the street.
“All of a sudden shots went off,” Jackson said. “I flew inside of the store (7-Eleven).”
When the hail of gunfire halted, she ran outside to try and help the victims. “I was scared,” Jackson said.
“I ran toward the people who were lying on the street,” Jackson said. “They (victims) were on the sidewalk in front of the McDonald’s.”
Jackson said at least one person shot appeared to be man in his 20s while many others were likely people in their teens. Jackson recognized another victim as a possibly homeless woman about 60, who regularly asks for change at that corner.
Jackson finally made it home about 2:30 a.m. but didn’t take the CTA, as service was still down in that area.
“My head is actually spinning right now,” Jackson said in a text message.
Tribune reporter Stephanie Casanova contributed to this story