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‘Who does that?’ victim asks of gunman who opened fire on park filled with kids


Police provided this information on the victims:

◆ The 3-year-old boy was shot in the face, in critical condition at Mt. Sinai.

◆ A 15-year-old boy was shot in the arm, in stable condition at Holy Cross.

◆ A 17-year-old girl was shot in the foot, in stable condition at Holy Cross.

◆ A 23-year-old woman was shot in the foot, in stable condition at St. Anthony.

◆ A 31-year-old man was shot in the buttocks, in stable condition at Northwestern.

◆ A 28-year-old man was shot in the wrist, leg and hip, in unknown condition at Mt. Sinai.

◆ A 41-year-old man was shot in the buttocks, in serious condition at Stroger.

◆ A 26-year-old man was shot in the leg, in serious condition at Mt. Sinai.

◆ A 25-year-old man was shot in the abdomen, in serious condition at Mt. Sinai.

◆ A 37-year-old man was shot in the thigh, in good condition at Stroger.

◆ A 21-year-old man was shot in the leg, in good condition at Northwestern.

◆ A 23-year-old man was shot in the thigh in stable condition at Little Company of Mary.

◆ A 33-year-old woman was shot in the back/shoulder, in stable condition at Northwestern.

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Updated: October 22, 2013 6:08AM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel flew back from Washington on Friday to quarterback the police response to a gang-related shooting of 13 people that returned Chicago’s violence to the national conversation.

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said a gunman fired at least 16 rounds of 7.62 mm bullets into Cornell Square Park near 51st and Wood in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.

The bullets — which left a 3-year-old boy critically wounded — are used in military-style rifles, McCarthy said, calling for stronger gun control measures, including a ban on assault weapons.

“Illegal guns, illegal guns, illegal guns drive violence,” he said. “This is something that we can’t accept as OK in a civilized society.”

Assault rifles, he added, “belong on a battlefield.”

The White House also responded to the violence, with a pledge that President Barack Obama would continue to press Congress to pass “commonsense measures” to combat gun violence.

“The President was dismayed to learn of yet another deplorable act of gun violence, this time in his hometown of Chicago,” said White House spokeswoman Joanna Rosholm. “He sends his thoughts and prayers to the several victims who were shot last night and hopes for their speedy recovery.”

McCarthy said police were talking to “several people” about the shootings. Ald. Willie Cochran (20th) said police told him they have a “person of interest.”

McCarthy called the fact that no one was killed a miracle.

One of the victims, Niesha Brannon, was walking her dog when the shots rang out.

“I saw five or six bullets flying over my head, and before I knew it, I was shot in the back,” Brannon said.

Brannon was released from the hospital Friday morning. She showed reporters the bandage on her back.

She said the 3-year-old boy was petting her dog when the shooting began.

“I turned my back from him, and that’s when the shots let off. By the time I ran, I was gone and all I could hear was screaming, ‘Tay-man Tay-man. He’s shot,’” Brannon said.

“I just heard a lot of screaming. Everyone’s shot. It was just too much. Too much after that.”

Brannon said she is struggling to make sense of it.

“I could have died last night,” she said. “What child or what man would see kids in the park and open fire like that? Who does that? You don’t have a heart.”

Some of the victims were Gangster Disciples, police said. They are investigating whether the shooting stems from a conflict between the GDs and the Black P Stones.

McCarthy said police were getting “tons of cooperation” from residents, but the intended target was still unclear Friday afternoon.

Police were exploring whether the shootings were linked to two homes that were shot up near the park Wednesday morning.

They also were reviewing video footage from a police surveillance camera. The FBI was assisting in the case.

The 3-year-old boy shot Thursday night remained “heavily sedated” in intensive care Friday afternoon and was about to go in for another surgery, said the Rev. Corey Brooks of the New Beginnings Church.

The boy, Deonta “Tay-man” Howard, was shot in the cheek when bullets began to fly about 10:15 p.m. Thursday at a basketball court in Cornell Square Park.

The bullet went in through the back of one ear and exited through his jaw, Brooks said. “It’s a serious wound, but we do believe he’s going to be OK,” Brooks said.

Deonta and his mother were at the park with relatives, Brooks said, enjoying the warm late-summer weather.

Deonta’s uncle Julian Harris, 22, said dreadlocked gunmen in a gray sedan fired at him at the corner of Wood and 51st before turning north on Wood and shooting into the park.

According to other witnesses, two gunmen got out of the car and began firing.

“They hit the light pole next to me, but I ducked down and ran into the house,” Harris said. “They’ve been coming round here looking for people to shoot every night — just gang-banging stuff. It’s what they do.”

In addition to the 13 shot in Cornell Park, two men were killed and nine other people were injured in gun violence throughout the city Thursday night.

At a news conference, McCarthy was asked about a national perception that crime is out of control in Chicago. He responded: “We are doing better — but we have a long way to go. ... Every time there’s a shooting in our community, it’s a setback for us.”

So far this year, murder is down 21 percent compared with the same period of 2012 — 305 killings versus 389 — and shootings are down 23 percent, according to the police department.

But Thursday night’s mass shooting put Chicago’s gun violence back in the national headlines, with one activist comparing it to the massacre in Washington earlier in the week.

“Just four days after the Navy Yard tragedy, it happened again,” said Capt. Mark Kelly, husband of wounded former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and co-founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions.

On Friday, Emanuel canceled meetings with two Cabinet members in Washington and returned to Chicago in the wake of the shootings. He also canceled an appearance at a New Jersey rally for Senate candidate Cory Booker.

After cutting short his trip, Emanuel returned to City Hall, where he met privately with McCarthy to discuss the investigation and a strategy to prevent the gang conflict that triggered Thursday’s shootings from escalating.

After huddling with McCarthy, Emanuel went to Mount Sinai Hospital about 1:15 p.m., where he visited with shooting victims and their families for about 45 minutes.

Brooks was in the room when Emanuel arrived to speak with Deonta’s family. “He was very consoling, very encouraging,” Brooks said. “It was a very touching meeting and much appreciated.”

Emanuel later came to a prayer vigil with family, friends and victims of the shootings, at Brooks’ New Beginnings Church of Chicago. The mayor sent out a clear message that gangs do not belong in the city.

“The parks in the city of Chicago belong to the families of the city of Chicago. The streets of the city of Chicago belong to the families of the city of Chicago. The front stoops of our homes belong to the families of the city of Chicago,” Mayor Emanuel said.

Deonta’s grandmother Semehca Nunn urged the shooter to step forward. “If you have any kind of sympathy or a heart, you’ll turn yourself in,” Nunn said.

Nunn said her fiance was also shot, and was recovering at home from a gunshot wound to the leg.

Deonta’s aunt, Lavada Hardeman, 18, said her brother, Jerome “J Money” Wood, was killed on Labor Day.

“I can’t catch a break,” Hardeman said.

Contributing: Becky Schlikerman, Brian Slodysko and Kim Janssen

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