Chicago ViolenceChicago police work the scene of a shooting early Tuesday, April 6, 2021 in Chicago. Police say seven people were shot and wounded in a Chicago neighborhood overnight in the city’s latest wave of gun violence. Chicago police say the seven were involved in a fight on the sidewalk when shots were fired late Monday in the Englewood neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. (Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune via AP)
CHICAGO (AP) — A 21-month-old boy was shot in the head Tuesday morning while riding in a car on Chicago's famed Lake Shore Drive just hours after seven people were shot and wounded in a fight a few miles away, in what is shaping up to be one of the most violent years for the city in memory, police said.
According to Chicago Police, the car crashed after the boy, first identified as a 3-year-old and then a 2-year-old, was shot in the temple near Grant Park on the city's South Side at about 11 a.m. Police said the shooting apparently stemmed from a dispute between the driver of the car the boy was in and the driver of another vehicle. They said one driver would not let the other enter a lane of traffic as both were heading north.
At a news conference outside the hospital where the boy was taken, Commander Jake Alderden said the two drivers apparently did not know each other, but one of the drivers subsequently opened fire near the Shedd Aquarium. Police recovered bullet casings over about a two-block stretch of the roadway. Alderden said a handgun was found with one of the occupant's of the car the boy was riding in but that it remained unclear whether the gun had been fired.
They said a woman jumped out of the car with the child and someone drove them to Northwestern Memorial Hospital before the boy was transferred to Lurie Children’s Hospital, where police said he was in critical condition.
On Monday night, a fight turned to gun violence in the South Side neighborhood of Englewood. Seven people were injured. A 39-year-old woman was listed in serious condition after she was shot in the arm and abdomen. Five men were hospitalized in fair condition, while another person was in good condition after walking into a hospital in the Cook County suburb of Harvey with a gunshot wound to the leg, police said.
No arrests have been made in either shooting, although police say they are questioning a person of interest in the shooting involving the infant.
The shootings follow violence across Chicago on Easter Sunday that left seven people dead and at least 10 more with gunshot wounds.
And last week, a Chicago police officer fatally shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo as he ran from officers while carrying a handgun. Adam died at the scene March 29 and a gun was recovered. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has said police officers have been warned that gang members might shoot at them in retaliation for Adam's death.
March ended as so many other months have ended: With more homicides and shootings than during the same month a year earlier. According to police department statistics released last week, by the end of March there were 131 homicides compared with 98 for the same period last year. And the number of shooting victims in 2021 had already climbed past 700 — more than 200 more than had been recorded during the first three months of last year.
Those totals and the weekend slayings puts Chicago on pace to eclipse the 769 homicides in 2020, which was the deadliest year in all but one year in the previous two decades.
Those kinds of numbers have long put Chicago at the center of the national discussion on gun violence. On Tuesday, President Joe Biden's press secretary, Jen Psaki, said the president favors more federal spending on “community violence prevention" and is pushing for gun safety measures to help slow the pace of gun violence.
“He's actually proposed funding to do just that... in order to address the prevalence of violence in some communities like Chicago that we need to spend money from the federal government to do exactly that,” she said during the White House press briefing.
Associated Press reporter Nancy Benac in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.