Toddler on ventilator, in coma after apparent road rage shooting on Lake Shore Driveon April 7, 2021 at 8:57 pm

A 21-month-old boy remains at Lurie Children’s Hospital fighting for his life Wednesday afternoon after he was shot in the head in an apparent road-rage incident Tuesday on Lake Shore Drive near Grant Park.

The boy remains in “very critical condition,” though his health hasn’t worsened in the 24 hours since the shooting, giving hospital staff “cautious hope,” according to Dr. Marcelo Malakooti, medical director of the pediatric intensive care unit at Lurie Children’s.

The toddler, who was shot in the temple, suffered “a severe brain injury,” which tends to have a “high mortality risk,” Malakooti said. It’s still too early to determine a prognosis, though the boy could have a debilitate future if he pulls through, the doctor said.

The boy has been placed in a medically-induced coma to protect his brain and is on a ventilator, Malakooti said.

“He certainly is in the camp of promising,” Malakooti said. “You might expect that patients could worsen a lot more with this type of injury and then there are other patients who can improve remarkably well even more quick. So he’s kind of there in the plateau phase, but I’m pleased every day that I know that he hasn’t worsened.”

The boy’s mother and grandmother remain by his side, according to the hospital.

A dispute over one car not letting another car into a lane of traffic about 11 a.m. on northbound Lake Shore Drive just south of Soldier Field apparently led to the shooting, Chicago Police Cmdr. Jake Alderden said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

Both cars continued north and shooting began on Lake Shore Drive just west of the Shedd Aquarium. Bullet casings were recovered over a two-block stretch as the cars proceeded north, Alderden said.

The vehicle the child was in then crashed at Monroe Street and Lake Shore Drive, near the Chicago Yacht Club and Maggie Daley Park.

Chicago police investigate in the northbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive at East Monroe Street, where a 21-month-old boy was shot in the head while he was traveling inside a car near Grant Park, Tuesday, April 6, 2021.
Chicago police with a car that crashed in the northbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive at East Monroe Street on Tuesday. A 21-month-old boy inside that car was shot in the head.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

One person was being questioned by Area Three detectives in connection with the shooting Tuesday evening, police said. He had not been released as of late Wednesday afternoon, and no charges had been filed.

Community activist Ja’Mal Green, father of a 2-year-old, is personally funding a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the gunman.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has called the shooting a case of “simple, stupid road rage.”

But, she was reminded Wednesday that the incident — in broad daylight, in the heart of the city — was just the latest in an avalanche of shootings on Chicago area expressways.

There were two on Easter and another Tuesday night. That makes 57 already this year — nearly triple last year’s total and more expressway shootings than any other big city in the nation.

Lightfoot was asked what CPD is doing to stop expressway shootings and whether motorists should be concerned about their safety.

“I’ll push back a little bit. Unfortunately, we are continuing to see — not only in Chicago, but across the country — an increase in violence in cities that we saw really, I think, arising from the pandemic,” the mayor said.

“We are constantly calibrating our deployments across the city — both based upon historic trends, but also more recent data. But the issues on the highways are real.”

The city, she said, will “have to have continued partnership” with the Illinois State Police and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart “to make sure that we’re doing everything we can.”

A bullet hole could be seen in the rear passenger window of a car in which a child was shot April 6, 2021, near at Monroe and Lake Shore drives near Grant Park.
A bullet hole could be seen in the rear passenger window of a car in which a child was shot April 6, 2021, near at Monroe and Lake Shore drives near Grant Park.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Still, Lightfoot said Chicago is “ultimately fighting a losing battle” without “common sense gun control” that only Congress can enact.

“A lot of the guns that end up on the streets in Chicago come from places like Indiana and other states that have very lax gun laws. Whether it’s in background checks. Whether it’s the number of guns you can buy. How they can move from one person to another. We constantly see … guns that were purchased, but end up on the street in a crime within three years,” she said.

“We are gonna continue to fight the fight here in Chicago. But we have to have help from the federal government. If you can go over the border in Indiana and literally buy military-grade weapons at any quantity that you want if you’ve got the dollars to pay for it, what does that mean for the public safety of our city? … We need some help from the federal government because there are too many people who have ill intentions that are getting access to firearms. We’ve got to have federal authorities step up starting with passing universal background checks.”

The push for universal background checks is not new. It’s simply gone nowhere in Congress. But, Lightfoot said, the political tide has turned.

“I’m hopeful now — with a Democratic president who supports it and two chambers of Congress that are controlled by Democrats — we’ll actually finally get it done. And then, we’ll be better situated to bring more peace to our city because we’re gonna stop the flow of illegal guns onto our streets,” she said.

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