Gun violence in the US

Three-year-old boy among 13 shot on basketball court in Chicago

Drive-by attack in Chicago leaves three critical, including child hit in face, in latest US outrage

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 September, 2013, 4:07am

Thirteen people, including a three-year-old child, were shot at a Chicago park in the latest eruption of US gun violence.

Witnesses said gunmen in a car opened fire on people on a basketball court in the Back of the Yards neighbourhood on Thursday night.

A witness, Julian Harris, told the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper that men fired at him from a grey sedan before turning towards Cornell Square Park and firing at people in the area.

He said his three-year-old nephew was shot in the face.

"They hit the light pole next to me, but I ducked down and ran into the house," he said.

"They've been coming round here looking for people to shoot every night, just gang-banging stuff. It's what they do."

Authorities said no one had been taken into custody in connection with the shooting, which came in the same week that a gunman killed 12 people at a US Navy facility in Washington before he was killed by police.

Ten adults and the three-year-old were taken to hospital in Fire Department ambulances, said Fire Department Deputy District Chief James Mungovan.

A 12th victim was believed to have driven himself to hospital and a 13th victim, a 33-year-old woman with a gunshot wound in her back, was also identified.

Three of the victims, including the child, were reported to be in a critical condition.

A witness at the scene said three police officers carried the child to an ambulance, one of 10 at the scene. "I didn't hear any sounds" from the child, he said.

The attack took place at about 10.15pm at a basketball court on the 51st Street side of the city's Cornell Square Park. About 60 police officers were quickly on the scene.

Francis John, 70, said she was in her apartment when the shooting occurred. She went down to see what was going on and "a lot of youngsters were running scared".

She said she was surprised by what had happened, saying she has lived in the neighbourhood for 30 years.

The shooting comes as Chicago struggles to stem an epidemic of gang violence that helped push the city's murder rate up 16 per cent to 506 people last year.

The shooting comes nearly three weeks after Chicago saw an outburst of violence over the Labour Day weekend that ended with eight dead and 20 others wounded.

The city's Police Department has responded to shootings that have grabbed national headlines by stepping up its crimefighting efforts, paying overtime to add patrols to some neighbourhoods, including the Back of the Yards.

President Barack Obama returned to his adopted hometown earlier this year to appeal for an end to the "senseless" gun violence in the city.

He has been pressing for ambitious gun control measures which so far have been stalled in the US Congress.

Additional reporting by Associated Press, Agence France-Presse