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Shots ring out, man wounded at memorial to slain teen

15 year old Jovany Diaz was shot killed while standing street 4300 block W. Hirsch his birthday. The scene is

15 year old Jovany Diaz was shot and killed while standing on street in 4300 block of W. Hirsch on his birthday. The scene is now is of tears and pain, Tuesday, June 14, 2011. | John H. White~Sun-Times

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Updated: September 21, 2011 12:33AM

As dozens of mourners stood at a balloon-filled memorial for a 15-year-old murder victim Tuesday afternoon, a gunman opened fire on the same block and wounded a 24-year-old man — while a stunned Chicago Sun-Times reporter watched.

At about 2:20 p.m., staff reporter Kim Janssen was covering the slaying of Jovany Diaz when he heard a man shouting at the corner of Kildare and Hirsch in the West Humboldt Park neighborhood.

The man — who was among the mourners at Diaz’s memorial just moments earlier — fired two shots into the air.

Then, he pointed his handgun south on Kildare and fired two or three more shots, Janssen said.

The victim was shot in both legs and taken to Illinois Masonic Medical Center in stable condition, police said.

Janssen said he was unable to understand what the gunman had yelled before he fired.

Police were hunting for the shooter, whom Janssen described as Hispanic and in his late teens. He was unshaven and wore a black tank top and blue jeans.

Police said they didn’t have a motive for Monday’s murder or Tuesday’s shooting, although neighbors speculated they may have been gang-related.

Diaz was gunned down at 10 p.m. Monday while celebrating his 15th birthday on the same block — where he lived. He was a freshman at Amundsen High School, officials said.

Diaz, known among his friends as “J,” wasn’t a gang member, according to residents and the police. He liked to play basketball after school in nearby Kedvale Park.

“He’s no troublemaker,” said Mohammad Abu, manager of the Dania Food Mart on a corner of Kildare and Hirsch. “He goes to school, comes home and plays basketball.”

Mourners have spray-painted “R.I.P. Jovany” and “R.I.P. Pookie,” another nickname, on buildings near the murder scene.

Abu said he was behind the counter Tuesday afternoon when he heard a “pop, pop, pop.”

“I told them to lock the door because I had a mother with her kids in here,” he said.

Abu said the neighborhood is violent and residents are reluctant to cooperate with the police — although witnesses besides Janssen also spoke to detectives about Tuesday’s shooting.

“Everybody feels nervous being here,” Abu said. “On Saturday, someone got shot and died a block away.”

Shootings near memorials for murder victims aren’t unheard of in Chicago: in May, five people — including a 10-year-old boy — were shot near a memorial for a man slain on the Southeast Side.

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