Reshorna Fitzpatrick stood with four other pastors as police placed white markers near shell casings strewn on the street and sidewalk near Theodore Herzl Elementary School in North Lawndale.
Five people — three of them teens — had been shot there, minutes after five other people had been shot just blocks away. A 15-year-old boy died in that shooting.
“I’m heartbroken,” said Fitzpatrick, pastor of the Stone Temple Missionary Baptist Church down the street. “It’s heartbreaking and shocking because we had gotten to a place where we were really experiencing some peace.”
The two shootings Wednesday evening were among three mass attacks in Chicago in a single day. The other occurred close to midnight in Lincoln Park when someone in a passing car shot eight people who had been riding in a party bus.
At least 34 other shootings this year have wounded four or more people, according to a Sun-Times analysis of city data. Over the last five years, Chicago has recorded the most mass shootings in the nation by far, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
Three of the victims from the attacks were 15 and younger, continuing a trend of rising violence against children this year.
The neighborhood where they were shot, North Lawndale, has been more deadly this year than this time last year, from 21 homicides to 30.
“I really wish that the community would come together and operate from a place of peace,” Fitzpatrick said. “That they would establish some type of faith, some type of order in the homes with their family members and have conversations, particularly around peace, and also around just being community — to just come in and be one.”
The first attack happened around 6 p.m. when a gunman or gunmen opened fire at the corner of Douglas Boulevard and Christiana Avenue, according to Chicago Police Deputy Chief Ernest Cato.
Damarion L. Benson, 15, was shot in the head and was taken to Stroger Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said. Police earlier gave his age as 14. He lived about 2 1/2 miles away on the Near West Side.
Another boy, 16, was also struck in the head and was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in “grave” condition, police said.
Three men were also taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where they were stabilized, police said. A 22-year-old was shot in the foot and another, 24, was struck in the leg. A third man, also 24, was shot in the hip.
Minutes later, three teenagers and two men were shot outside Herzl Elementary near Douglas Boulevard and Ridgeway Avenue, police said. They included a 14-year-old boy who was getting into a car with his dad. The four other victims were 15, 17, 19 and 22.
Police described it as “extremely chaotic” scene with “multiple shooters.” A car had flipped on its side, apparently the result of someone making a turn at a high rate of speed, police said.
The 19-year-old was in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the chest, the 17-year-old was in serious condition with a gunshot wound to the back, the 14-year-old was shot in the arm and was in good condition, the 15-year-old was shot in the leg and was in good condition and the 22-year-old was struck in the thigh and also was in good condition.
Though only three blocks apart, the two shootings didn’t appear to be related, Cato said. He pleaded with community members to come forward with information.
“We’re going to need an all-hands-on-deck approach, and that approach is going to involve … our community getting involved and saying what’s going on,” he said. “Our community who has cellphone pictures, who has Facebook information. We’re going to need your help.”
On the two mass shootings occurring so close to one another, Cato said, “Unfortunately, we’re seeing this not only in our city. We’re seeing this in our country, mass shootings. If you’re asking for my feelings, I’m not happy about it at all. I think all of us should be sad about what’s going on in our country and in our city.”
Police Supt. David Brown complained Thursday morning that many of the victims were not cooperating with investigators.
“That signals to us that, ‘We want revenge. We don’t want police solving this case,'” he told reporters at a news conference. “It’s not an exaggeration to say we are in a battle for the heart and soul of some of these communities as it relates to violence.”
Fitzpatrick, the executive pastor of Stone Temple, said she was working in a nearby community peace garden when she heard gunshots. Then she saw people running and shooting each other.
“It kind of reminded me of some of the westerns that my dad [watched],” said Fitzpatrick, who said there was rapid shooting for 30 to 60 seconds.
Fitzpatrick said her church hosts “Wellness Sundays” on the boulevard and invites community members to socialize and participate in activities like face painting and tight-rope walking on the grassy median.
“It’s really been working,” she said. “That’s why this is really shocking to me.”