CHICAGO - A 15-year-old sophomore at Simeon Career Academy lost his life in a shooting Tuesday afternoon.
School had just let out and a large group of Simeon students had gathered at a strip mall near Simeon Academy, when police say someone inside a vehicle opened fire, killing the sophomore football player.
"Another tragic shooting. Another family that's going to have to mourn the loss of a child," said minister Johnny Banks with the group ‘The Knock at Midnight.’
It happened at 2:41 p.m. at the Chatham Market strip mall at 83rd and South Holland Road. Witnesses say at least a dozen shots were fired. Police say a black-colored vehicle approached the 15-year-old victim and an occupant in that vehicle fired several shots.
Authorities have not yet released the name of the victim.
"He was not the kid with the tattoos or a kid that was bad. He was a kid that hoped to move his mother out of the hood through football," said Pastor Donovan Price, who spoke with the boy's family.
The boy was struck in the chest and rushed to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead.
A backpack and sandals lay among over a dozen evidence markers that littered the parking lot and sidewalk in front of a BMO Harris Bank branch. Officers walked in and out of a nail salon and restaurant next to the bank.
"We heard the sound and saw people running," said an employee at a GameStop store near the shooting who declined to be named. "Kids were leaving school and then it happened."
The manager of a Potbelly was pulling into the restaurant parking lot when she heard gunshots and saw the teen lying on the ground in front of a bank. "I heard it but couldn’t see it," said the manager, who declined to provide her name. "He was on the ground."
Pastor Price says the boy lost his father to gun violence.
"The family wants everyone to know: this was a good kid. A kid who wanted to play football. Who looked forward to playing football at Simeon, but unfortunately because of COVID that was delayed," said Price.
Aie’rianna Williams, a senior at the school, said she has lost several classmates to violence during her time at Simeon.
"I’ve lost multiple classmates every year and it’s just heartbreaking," she said at the scene. "There’s been only four weeks in school and another student is gone. It’s like, when is it going to stop? Because we all know, when I graduate it’s not going to stop.
"We’re going to hear about it again and again, and it’s tiring," Williams said. "Just stop."
Williams said she checked on a friend when the shots rang out.
"We’re students, we’re children," she said. "Some of us haven’t even hit 18 yet and we have to lose so many people, some that we don’t know and some that we do. It’s sad, it’s messed up.
"I don’t care if it’s vengeance, I don’t care if it’s revenge," she added. "That’s still a life you’re taking. It doesn’t matter."
The Chatham community area has seen 22 homicides so far this year, two more than the same time last year, according to Sun-Times data.
Chatham is one of the city’s 15th most violent community areas that have been prioritized by the city for increased anti-violence funding and community programs, although some of those areas have seen little increased funding.
The police district that covers Chatham has seen a 15% increase in murders over the same time last year, from 55 to 63, according to police statistics. Shootings have risen 28%, from 185 to 237, over the same period.
The Chicago Teachers Union says it's going to be working with the CTU Foundation Quest Center to offer trauma support to Simeon students and staff.
Detectives at the 6th District say as of 9 p.m. Tuesday night, no offenders were in custody.
Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.