Toddler critically wounded in road-rage shooting on Lake Shore Drive near Grant Parkon April 7, 2021 at 3:58 am

Police were questioning a person of interest Tuesday evening after a 1-year-old boy was shot in the head during an apparent road-rage incident late Tuesday morning on Lake Shore Drive near Grant Park, Chicago police said.

The boy suffered a brain injury and was at Lurie Children’s Hospital in critical condition, according to Dr. Marcelo Malakooti, medical director of the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit. He’s requiring full critical care support and is on a ventilator.

“It’s really hard to predict right now what will happen,” Dr. Malakooti said. “It’s a very tenuous situation, it can change hourly.”

Dr. Malakooti said his team will be “doing all we can do for this little boy and thank everyone for their concern.”

Clifton Marvel, the boy’s great-grandfather, told WGN late Tuesday night outside the hospital that “it looks to be like he’s gonna be OK.”

“The bullet went in and came out,” Marvel told WGN. “He’s been in surgery. … You hear all the violence, but this has hit home.”

Police said Tuesday evening that Area Three detectives were questioning a person in connection with the shooting.

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, he said.

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

A good Samaritan in a passing Tesla saw the crashed car and drove the boy and a male and female occupant to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The boy, who was shot in the temple, was later transferred to Lurie, police said.

Detectives “have witnesses and a suspect … and are actively pursuing the other car that was involved,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said later Tuesday.

There was early confusion over the child’s exact age; a hospital statement described him as “nearly 2” years old.

A handgun was recovered from an occupant of the crashed vehicle, though police couldn’t immediately say if it was used in the shooting or if it was possessed legally.

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

A bullet hole could be seen in the rear passenger window of the crashed vehicle. Northbound Lake Shore Drive was closed until about 1:30 p.m. as police investigated.

Lightfoot called the shooting a case of “simple, stupid road rage.” She was incredulous that adults would unleash their anger and use a gun with a child so near.

“It’s mind boggling to me that people carry guns in the way that they do. That they use them in the way that they do. … It’s just a terrible tragedy,” she said at an unrelated news conference.

“These were not two rival gangs … shooting at each other. This was simple, stupid road rage,” the mayor said. “I just hope that we are smarter and more committed to making sure that we set the example for our children that we want them to follow. And getting upset about a traffic incident — in whether you can merge or not — that that would result in gunfire is an absurdity to me.”

Lightfoot said people in both cars in the incident were firing weapons.

“There was shooting going from that car and coming to that car. That doesn’t make any sense to me,” Lightfoot said.

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.

In a news conference near the hospital, Green called out community leaders, including Lightfoot, Gov. J.B Pritzker and Vice President Kamala Harris, who landed in Chicago two hours after the shooting to speak about COVID-19 vaccine equity.

“I understand how important it is to vaccinate people and talk about this cover pandemic but here in Chicago, folks every single day are walking around trying to dodge bullets in hopes they can survive a nice day like today,” Green said.

“This is the most I’ve ever seen them talk about our communities. This is the most I’ve ever seen them want to give something to our communities… but we’re asking for real health and real change, and the root problems to be solved in our communities. We need to invest in these communities, we need to make sure that we can have a safe summer.”

Green was joined by several other young Chicago residents — many of whom he mentors — including 18-year-old Madison Harvey.

“Every day when I go into the streets in the city, I fear for my own life,” Harvey said. “This situation is extremely sad, but it’s almost making us extremely angry because our anger stems from fear — fear that we could be next.”

With summer around the corner, Green demanded that officials invest more into the communities most impacted by gun violence. He also called for a “ceasefire” on young people.

“We can’t take this any longer,” he said.

CPD said it could not immediately say how many road-rage shootings happen in the city each year.

Illinois State Police said there have 56 expressway shootings in the Chicago area this year, a 167% increase compared to last year at this time. Between Jan. 1, 2020, through April 5, 2020, state police investigated 21 expressway shootings. State police couldn’t say how many of those shootings were road-rage incidents.

Police have responded to at least five other shootings this year in the Loop.

Police investigate after a child was shot April 6, 2021, near at Monroe and Lake Shore drives near Grant Park.
Police investigate after a child was shot April 6, 2021, near at Monroe and Lake Shore drives near Grant Park.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Last weekend two men were wounded in separate shootings on Lower Wacker Drive. On Easter, an 18-year-old man was shot about 7:10 a.m. while driving with his girlfriend in the first block of North Lower Wacker, police said. Struck in the neck, he was hospitalized in critical condition. Before dawn Saturday, a 29-year-old man was shot in his knee as he traveled in a vehicle on Lower Wacker, police said.

On March 19, three people were arrested for allegedly firing gunshots shortly after midnight in the first block of East Lake Street, police said. A hotel security guard gave a vehicle description to police, who found the car on Wacker Drive.

In October 2020, prosecutors said Lake Shore Drive became a “shooting gallery” when someone shot out the eye of a 19-year-old woman in a vehicle at Jackson Boulevard, just south of where the child was shot Tuesday.

Chicago police’s 1st District, which covers the Loop and South Loop, has seen two other shootings this year through March 28, according to police statistics. Overall crime in the district has fallen 35% over the same period last year, according to the numbers. Meanwhile, reports of sex assault and vehicle thefts have increased over the last year.

Contributing: Mary Chappell

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