Chicago police Wednesday morning blamed the retaliatory nature of Chicago’s violence for a mass shooting at a funeral the evening before on the South Side that left at least 15 people wounded.
The mass shooting, Chicago’s worst in recent memory, has once again put the city in an uncomfortable national spotlight as violence has spiked to levels unseen in years. It comes as the city gears up to receive a beefed up presence of federal agents from the Trump administration in response to the violence and as the Police Department plans to start a citywide unit to respond to flare-ups of shootings.
“These victims were all wounded when shots were fired as family members and friends gathered to grieve the loss of a loved one who was killed in a drive-by shooting,” Brown said of the mass shooting in the Gresham neighborhood, during a news conference at City Hall. “The cycle of violence in Chicago, someone gets shot, which prompts someone else to pick up a gun. This same cycle repeats itself over and over and over again. This cycle is fueled by street gangs, guns and drugs.”
“In the case of the funeral shooting, rival factions repeated this cycle. Too many people in Chicago have been touched by gun violence. And the response too often is picking up a gun to seek vengeance,” Brown also said. “There is no comfort in revenge. None. Put your guns down. We can’t keep meting out violence with violence. An eye for an eye makes us both blind, it’s destroying our families and perpetuates this endless cycle of gunshot victims night after night.”
Police said the shooting happened at the site of a funeral for 31-year-old Donnie Weathersby, who was fatally shot last week near 74th Street and Stewart Avenue in the Englewood neighborhood, about a mile from where Tuesday’s shooting occurred.
At the news conference, the Police Department’s chief of detectives, Brendan Deenihan, said Weathersby’s killing had gang overtones and he pleaded for the public’s help to solve the shootings, because people on both sides of gang conflicts often choose to take matters into their own hands.
“We believe when we’re investigating that murder that that one occurred related to a prior shooting or murder,” Deenihan said of Weathersby’s killing.
“This is an ongoing gang conflict where individuals are shooting at each other, and obviously those individuals then have no interest in cooperating with police.”
Shots were fired at people at Weathersby’s funeral in the 1000 block of 79th Street from a black car speeding west about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to police.
Some at the funeral exchanged gunfire with those in the car, according to police. The vehicle then turned north on Carpenter Street, and shots continued to be fired at the funeral attendees, before the vehicle crashed midway down the block, according to police. Those inside the vehicle fled.
A neighbor, who asked not to be identified, said it sounded like multiple weapons were used in the shooting.
Fourteen victims were being treated at five area hospitals, according to police. Another victim, a 65-year-old woman, was treated at the scene, police said.
Most were in serious to critical condition when they were taken to the hospital, according to Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford.
The number of shooters was still being determined by detectives, according to police.
After initially saying there were at least 14 wounded, Chicago police gave an update Wednesday morning that there were at least 15 people shot and another man at the scene said he had been grazed by a bullet but had not sought medical attention.
Those shot included at least 10 women, police said. Their ages are: 21; two are 24; 26; 27; 30; 37; 43; 49; and 65.
The 26-year-old woman was in serious condition at the University of Chicago Medical Center and the 43-year-old was in serious condition at Advocate Christ Medical Center, police said. The rest were in good condition.
Five men were shot, police said. One is 22, two are 31 and one is 32. All the men except one of the 31-year-olds were in serious condition.
There was a police presence at the funeral. Police often assign beat cars to funerals for homicide victims.
Tuesday night at the scene of the attack, one young man stood near the crime scene tape. He said he was waiting in line to go inside the funeral home when the shooting started. As he ran, he realized he was grazed by a bullet, he said.
His right knee had a fresh wound. He said he didn’t tell police or paramedics he was hit because it was a minor wound, so he would not have been included in a victim count.
The Tuesday shooting marked one of Chicago’s worst in years.
Last year, 13 people were wounded, four of them critically, in a shooting inside a memorial gathering in the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side.
In September 2013, 13 people were shot in Cornell Square Park in the city’s Back of the Yards neighborhood. A 3-year-old boy was among the wounded in that shooting.
There have been other cases over the years of gunfire outside of funeral services in Chicago.
In October 2018, six people were shot as mourners were leaving a funeral at Bethlehem Star Missionary Baptist Church at 92nd Street and Cottage Grove Avenue. As many as five mourners drew their own weapons and returned fire during the broad daylight attack. The services were for Vantrease “Dooski Tha Man” Criss, a local rapper who was gunned down earlier that month.
In November 2012, two men were shot, one of them killed, outside St. Columbanus Church at 71st Street and Prairie Avenue. The shooting took place during a church service for a slain reputed gang member.
Meanwhile, Tuesday’s shooting happened as Chicago continues to reel from shootings that have once again brought unwanted national attention to the city.
So far in 2020, Chicago has experienced one of the most violent years in recent memory. Through Sunday, homicides in Chicago were up 51% with 414, compared to 275 at the same time last year, official CPD statistics show. Shootings were also up by 47%.
During a 28-day period through Sunday, at least 116 people were slain in Chicago, the statistics show. That’s up from 40 during the same period in 2019.
As the violence has intensified this summer, police Superintendent David Brown announced plans to start a roving citywide unit of officers to respond to flare-ups in violence throughout the city, a strategy that has come and gone throughout the years in Chicago. In the meantime, President Donald Trump’s administration is expected to unveil plans to deploy more federal agents to Chicago in an effort to fight the violence.