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Shooting of girls coming from community center ‘devastating’: Ald. Austin

Members Chicago Police Department stby identificatimarkers Tuesday July 10 2012 near where two teens were shot 1300 block West 117th

Members of the Chicago Police Department stand by identification markers on Tuesday July 10, 2012 near where two teens were shot on the 1300 block of West 117th Street in Chicago. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: August 13, 2012 1:45PM

Ald. Carrie Austin said she’s “devastated” that two teenage girls coming home from a newly opened South Side community center were shot in a park Tuesday night — before it was even dark.

She said the girls, aged 12 and 13, should have been able to safely go to and from the newly opened, $160 million Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center at 1250 W. 119th Street.

“Here are two young ladies minding their business just to go to have fun, just to leave home and go hang out at the Kroc Center — something new that we have where we can feel safe,” the 34th Ward alderman said.

Austin said it is time for Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy to develop a “separate strategy” — possibly a strike-force just for Area 2, which includes the West Pullman and Roseland areas besieged by gang violence.

“We’re at the National Guard level now. . . . It has gotten so out of hand, you’ve got to show what your strategy is to combat this because we’re at Defcon 3,” said Austin, chairman of the City Council’s Budget Committee.

Meanwhile, Mildred Shorter, the mother of Tishona Polk, 13, said Wednesday that both girls would be OK after they were shot in the 1300 block of West 117th Street just before 8 p.m.

Her daughter was released from the hospital Tuesday night after she was shot in the buttocks and the bullet came out her leg, but she is still in pain.

Tishona’s friend Nikia Turner, 12, “was shot in the stomach and had emergency surgery,” and still remained hospitalized at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, said Shorter.

“The gun violence is [crazy]. It’s off the chain. Innocent people are getting shot. These are babies. These are 12- and 13-year-old little girls,” Shorter said.

Shorter said witnesses know who did the shooting.

Police, however, said no one was in custody as of Wednesday afternoon.

They do not believe the girls were the intended targets.

Austin blamed the violence on rival gangs fighting over drug turf after the dismantling of CHA high-rises.

“I don’t want to call ’em Mafia, but it’s a different kind of terrorism for our kids, our families. You cannot treat the entire city the same way because things don’t happen in the same manner” elsewhere in the city, she said.

Austin stressed that she would much rather see the Chicago Police Department handle the problem locally, adding, “I don’t want our law enforcement to lose control.”

But if they do not, she said, “We’ll have to do something drastic. And that would be the National Guard.”

Contributing: Sun-Times Media Wire

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