After brutal week, Chicagoans worried about weekend violence

CHICAGO (FOX 32 / STMW) - Three teenagers were shot outside a Southwest Side alternative high school in broad daylight Friday—the second shooting outside a school in two days.

The teens were shot as they stood outside Camelot Excel Southwest High School near 70th and Washtenaw in the Marquette Park neighborhood about 12:50 p.m., police said.

"This is stupid. This is crazy," said Chicagoan Raymond Jackson.

Jackson walked his four grandchildren home from school Friday right past the spot where hours earlier three teens were shot.

"I mean you got kids coming to school, going to school and all you want to start shooting like that? Do you every think about yourself or the kids," Jackson said.

Someone with a gun fired shots from a gangway across the street, striking the three: a 17-year-old boy shot in the torso; a 17-year-old girl with a graze wound to the ankle; and a 15-year-old boy, also with a graze wound, police said.

"The injured subjects ran into the school for assistance. The offender then fled the scene on foot," said Wayne Gulliford of CPD.

All three were taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where the 17-year-old boy listed in serious-to-critical condition, officials said. The other teens were listed in good condition.

The alternative option school—for students ages 16-21—is connected to St. Adrian Catholic Church, and adjacent to McKay Elementary School.

All students were sent home for the day about 1 p.m., with some able to stay for after-school activities, the Sun-Times is reporting.

Camelot Education CEO Todd Bock released a statement, saying: “We are heartbroken over this senseless act of violence against three teenagers who were standing outside our school. This is a very emotional and painful time for the entire staff that works so closely and cares so much about kids in our community.

“We strive to keep our campuses safe, including safe corridors to and from school. But as this tragic incident shows, we can’t prevent someone with a gun and no conscience from  this kind of attack on the street.  It is a testament to our staff that they were out there and were able to administer immediate first aid.”

Parents of students at the adjacent elementary said they were terrified to hear about the shooting.

“These are little kids over here. Why are there people standing around here with guns?” Robert Flowers, 59, said while picking up his two grandkids from McKay.

Flowers said he frequently sees young men outside the schools: “Why aren’t they in school?” he asked.

Janeen Jones lives across the street from Excel. She said she saw a group of young boys loitering near her home and called the school with complete descriptions.

When she came back home later Friday, she learned of the shooting.

“This is terrible. What are we supposed to do? The people that aren’t involved in the violence; the people that are innocent, that want to do something; the children who want to grow up and not be a part of this. It’s so sad,” Jones, a mother of four, said.

Jones is a local school council president at McKay. She said she’s a community activist and frequently engages with the young men who aren’t in school and may be up to no good: “I tell them I pray for them,” she said.

A sign on her porch reads, “We watch and we pray.”

Police are continuing their search for the gunman, but no one was in custody Friday afternoon.

Betty Howard, who lives across the street from the school, said she was at home reading her mail when she heard about three gunshots. She said she waited a few moments before looking out her front window—”to make sure there wasn’t anybody else out there,” she said.

When she did finally look out her window, she saw, “teachers and the students were running inside the school.”

Howard said she heard at least one person screaming, but didn’t see anyone injured or see who might have fired the gunshots.

Howard, who has lived in the neighborhood about 20 years, said she didn’t recall any previous problems at the school.

Bock said Camelot plans to “build on our strong relationship with our local community to do all we can to make sure a horrible episode like this does not happen again.”

The shooting on Friday was just the latest in a series of shootings and murders that has heightened tensions in parts of Chicago’s South Side, including Monday’s execution-style killing of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee, who police say was gunned down in retaliation for his family's gang ties.

"I'm kind of worried about the weekend," said community activist Andrew Holmes.

Holmes says police have saturated the area.

"The tension is very high because of the execution of this young man. Nine years old, a baby. Everyone's on high alert because that's a child," Holmes said.

That tension also surrounds Monday’s murder of 20 year old Kaylyn Pryor, an aspiring model from Evanston who was gunned down as she visited her grandparents in Englewood.

On Friday, her family had planned to pass out flyers offering a reward and asking for information near the spot where she was killed. But police told Kaylyn's parents it's too dangerous.

"The cops came around and told them to leave the area or just go inside because there's a lot of violence going on right now, and they know they were just trying to pay their respects and everything like that," said Katlyn’s sister Chantal.

As police conducted their investigation into Friday’s shooting outside the school, a man picking up his daughter could only shake his head.

"It’s really disturbing because my friend just got killed the other day on 70th and Campbell. Like I say our neighborhood was never like this. It really needs to change. They need to put down the guns," said Jerome Smith.

Police say they've already had a heavier than usual presence in those troubled South Side neighborhoods throughout the summer. They’re hoping cooler weather will help put a damper on the tempers and emotions that seem to fuel much of the gang violence.

A shooting on Thursday afternoon outside Bowen High School and Baker College Prep left a 14-year-old boy–a Baker student–in critical condition. Police have arrested a 16-year-old boy in the case.

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