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One gang member killed, another wounded after South Side funeral

Pastor Father Mike Knotek St. Columbanus Church (left) looks out evidence markers detailing gun shell casings as Chicago police investigate

Pastor Father Mike Knotek of St. Columbanus Church (left) looks out on the evidence markers detailing gun shell casings as Chicago police investigate a fatal shooting that occurred during a funeral service on Monday, November 26, 2012. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times

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Updated: December 28, 2012 6:18AM

As one murdered man lay in a casket in a South Side church Monday, hundreds of mourners poured out of his funeral to a horrifying sight: two other men were gunned down on the church’s steps — one fatally.

The shooting happened outside St. Columbanus Catholic Church across the street from A.A. Rayner & Sons Funeral Home in the 300 block of East 71st Street, officials said.

Sherman Miller, 21, was dead on arrival at 1 p.m. at Stroger Hospital, a hospital spokeswoman said. Court records also identified him as William Miller.

A 26-year-old man was in critical condition, authorities said.

“It looked like [the gunman] shot two people as they were trying to flee the scene,” said Charles Childs, a funeral director at A.A. Rayner, who added the gunman was walking down church stairs firing his weapon.

The funeral was for James Holman, 32, who was shot to death on Nov. 19 near his home in the 6000 block of South Michigan, said the Rev. Corey Brooks, who spoke at the service.

“I preached that we have a great need for God and peace in our neighborhoods,” said Brooks, who’s considering running for Jesse Jackson Jr.’s vacant congressional seat.

Brooks said about 500 people attended the funeral. He said he heard the gunfire after the service while he was leaving a side entrance to the church.

“It was crazy,” Brooks said. “It was the worst thing you could imagine. People were running, screaming, trying to get safe. When people were going out the door, they saw the bodies.”

Brooks added: “My heart is really broken that our community has come to the point that shooting at funerals is acceptable behavior.”

Outside the church, a sign said: “Pray for Peace.”

A police source said two weapons were recovered in connection with the shootings. One gun was found on one of the victims. Another gun was found nearby at 72nd and Prairie, the source said.

The motive for Monday’s shootings is unclear, said the source, who added that there’s been an ongoing battle between the Gangster Disciples and the Black Disciples in the area.

Holman was a member of the Gangster Disciples, but police haven’t confirmed his killing was directly related to a gang conflict, the source said.

A spokesman for Holman’s family denied he was in a gang and insisted Monday’s shooting was unrelated to his death.

“We are sick and fed up with the violence,” said the spokesman, who asked not to be identified.

Holman’s friends and family gathered at Mr. G’s banquet hall at 87th and Ashland to celebrate the life of Holman. They said he was a party promoter known as “Lil’ James.”

Hip-hop music played while newly arriving guests submitted to a pat down from a security guard before entering the hall.

Miller, a reputed Gangster Disciples member, was on parole for possession of a stolen vehicle, records show.

The other victim has a record that includes a gun conviction, records show.

Contributing: Mitch Dudek, Allison Horton and Mary Mitchell

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