Weekend mass shooting happened after birthday party, in neighborhood that is more dangerous despite City Hall effortsSun-Times Wireon September 13, 2021 at 3:48 pm

Chicago’s latest mass shooting happened as a birthday party was breaking up in West Pullman on the Far South Side.

Parents and children were saying their goodbyes as they walked to their cars in the 300 block of East Kensington Avenue around 9:35 p.m. Saturday.

Shots were fired from a passing car and everyone ran. At least six people were hit, according to Chicago police.

Schenia Smith, 42, a mother from Dolton, was hit in the arm and armpit and taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center where she was pronounced dead, police said.

Timothy Eiland, a Chicago firefighter, was shot in the face and taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center in critical condition, family said. His 15-year-old niece was shot and went to Comer Children’s Hospital in fair condition.

Three other men were wounded: A 38-year-old hit in the stomach, a 31-year-old grazed in the head, and a 22-year-old shot in the arm and leg. All of them were listed in fair condition.

The mother of the 15-year-old said the teen has been released from the hospital and there are hopeful signs that her brother is recovering, though his injuries are serious.

“Pray for my brother, pray for my daughter, pray for the other people who got shot,” Elishama Wright told WGN-TV. “Pray for Chicago.”

In a year when the city is seeing its worst gun violence in decades, West Pullman is near the top for both murders and shootings, according to police data.

Murders are up about 40% from this time a year ago in the police district that covers West Pullman, rising from three to five. Shootings are up about 35%, from 141 to 189. Other crime has also spiked: Sexual assaults are up 38%, aggravated battery up 11%.

During the same time, murders are up 3.6% across the city, from 535 last year to 554 this year. Shootings are up 9.5%, from 2,909 last year to 3,185 this year. Compared to this time in 2019, shootings are up nearly 68%.

A year ago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot released a violence prevention plan that proposed flooding West Pullman and 14 other community areas with resources — not just violence intervention programs but help with jobs and housing and health.

The neighborhoods were targeted because they have accounted for 50% of the violence in Chicago over the last three years.

Yet West Pullman and six of the other areas have recorded more shootings since last year, according to Sun-Times data. The others are Great Grand Crossing, South Shore, East Garfield Park, Roseland, Englewood and Chicago Lawn.

Seven other areas are doing no better than last year: West Garfield Park, Auburn Gresham, North Lawndale, Chatham, West Englewood, South Lawndale and Humboldt Park.

Only one of the targeted areas — Austin — has seen fewer shootings though homicides are about the same as last year and it remains one of the deadliest neighborhoods in Chicago.

A Sun-Times analysis in July found that the Lightfoot administration had yet to funnel any extra assistance to some of these dangerous neighborhoods, particularly on the Far South Side.

The West Pullman community area had received none of the $36 million released so far by City Hall under the plan this year.

In the next few weeks, City Hall will announce how much of $1.8 billion in federal stimulus aid should go to West Pullman and the other neighborhoods it has targeted under the plan.

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