It was a cool summer evening and neighbors were outside up and down the block in Englewood, some in groups under trees, others bent over a car, its hood raised.
Hardly anyone noticed when the Jeep pulled up across the street around 8:15 p.m. but in seconds two gunmen jumped out and began firing in all directions, according to Chicago police.
People ran, some hid behind cars, one person stumbled in the middle of the 6500 block of South Halsted Street, got up but fell again and started crawling away.
The gunmen sprayed a line of parked cars before jumping back into the Jeep and speeding off. In one of those cars was 1-month-old Terriana Smith, strapped into a child seat, according to her family.
Terriana was shot along with six other people, but she was the worst, a gunshot to the head.
She was taken in critical condition to St. Bernard Hospital, then transferred to Comer Children’s Hospital, where she underwent surgery Friday morning.
“She’s doing pretty good,” her uncle Charles McKenzie said, adding that she was breathing on her own. He said the bullet did not pierce her skull. Her car seat had several bullet holes in it.
The baby’s mother had driven to the block to speak to community members about keeping youth from violence.
“It’s hurtful, it’s painful,” said McKenzie,. “Out here serving and protecting the community and fighting against gun violence every day and it ends up my people that’s afflicted from this gun violence.”
Terriana was among three young children shot on Thursday, one of the most violent days this year with 32 people shot, four of them fatally.
Hours earlier, a 9-year-old girl was shot in the head as she sat in a car in Grand Crossing. She was taken by a police officer to Comer Children’s Hospital in critical condition.
Shortly after midnight, an 8-year-old girl was shot in the arm as she sat inside her home in Roseland. Two women on the porch were also shot and one of them died.
Police reported no arrests in any of the attacks Thursday.
The Sun-Times reported last month that more children 15 or younger have been shot so far this year, a trend that continues into July.
The three children were wounded in some of the deadliest neighborhoods in the city, Sun-Times data shows. Englewood ranks third for homicides this year with 18; Grand Crossing 9th with 14; and Roseland 12th with 12.
The shooting that wounded the 1-month-old came just days after two other mass shootings killed two women and injured 15 other people in Chicago.
At least 24 shootings across the city this year have wounded four or more people, according to a Sun-Times analysis.
“Last night was a disaster,” said Khandes McKenzie, 25, the baby’s cousin. “We see other families going through this trauma and now it happened to us and it’s heartbreaking.”
Charles McKenzie said the family had gathered in the area to speak to the community as part of their work with his organization, Englewood First Responders.
Not long after, Khandes McKenzie said she heard about the shooting through Facebook.
“It was a panic,” Khandes McKenzie said. “Even the thought that someone else had just got shot, someone opened fire like that. We all were panicking.”
The family gathered at the hospital Thursday night for “deep prayer” led by her grandmother.
Friday afternoon, Charles and Khandes McKenzie joined a small group of people at the scene of the shooting. The gathering had been scheduled days ago for the children of the community, with a barbecue and toy give-away.
But before they got to that, they formed a half-circle as two pastors led in prayer, calling for healing in the community and those hurt in the violence.
Charles McKenzie stepped forward to thank the group. “I’m grateful for all you guys coming out to show love to the Englewood community and also my niece and my sister.”
His voice broke and he buried his face in his hands, unable to continue.
Later, Khandes McKenzie finished his thought. “We’re just trying to keep them on the right path,” she said. “There is no need for retaliation at this point.”