CHICAGO — Police say a “person of interest” is in custody after a fight ended in gunfire in a Near North Side park Saturday, leaving one man in critical condition and injuring two men helping out at an anti-violence basketball tournament nearby.
“It’s sad. It just hurts my heart,” said Ald. Walter Burnett (27th Ward), who supported the “Peace in the Hood” tournament and grew up in nearby Cabrini Green.
The all-day event was beginning to wrap up around 6 p.m. Saturday when a fight broke out between three two four young men, believed to be between the ages of 15 and 20, nearby in Seward Park. Then police say “one to three” of them fired shots.
“There was still kids out here. Folks was running trying to gather them up,” Burnett said.
A 28-year-old man was shot in the back and taken to the hospital in critical condition. Burnett said he knew the other two victims, men who were helping out at the tournament, including a 43 year-old man who was helping out with cooking. Burnett said the man spoke to the group involved with the fight before he was shot in the arm and leg.
“He was telling them, ‘you all need to take this away from the kids. You know, whatever y’all fighting about take this somewhere else, we got kids over here,’” Burnett said.
Burnett said he believed the fight started over a girl, and the people involved didn’t take part in the basketball tournament. A fourth victim was beaten and taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in fair condition, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Police said the individuals who took part in the fight fled on foot after the shooting. One person was taken into custody thanks to a sheriff’s department worker who was attending the tournament. Police are still looking for at least two more suspects. Burnett said organizers are working with police to identify them.
Raymond Richard, who organized the tournament with the organization Brothers Standing Together, said the people involved in the shooting are likely “angry for whatever reason or another.”
“I only know one thing, we love you and we will continue to love you. You can’t change how we love and care about our people and we will not be shaken or broken by this,” Richard said.
Bo Pirruccello lives in a building across from the park and heard the shots just before 6 p.m. Saturday.
“It was heartbreaking,” Pirruccello said. “I hope it doesn’t tarnish the park, neighborhood and peoples willingness to come out and use the park.”