Chicago Shootings Spur Renewed Call For Tougher Gun Laws

Sep 20, 2013
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In Chicago, a late-night shooting yesterday left 13 people wounded, including a three-year-old boy. Police are still investigating the incident. Chicago has been struggling to curtail the city's gun violence, which plagues some neighborhoods on the city's south and west sides. The latest incident has the Chicago police superintendent once again calling for tougher gun laws. NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.

CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: Earlier this morning, it was a nearly idyllic scene at Cornell Square Park in a Chicago neighborhood called Back of the Yards. There were women pushing babies in strollers, a guy playing a conga drum, and a water spout flowed as parents nearby pushed their kids on a squeaky set of swings.

Last night, though, there were police, fire department medics and more than a dozen wounded people on the park's basketball court.

SHAWNTE JOHNSON: I heard the shots last night.

CORLEY: Shawnte Johnson lives about a block away.

JOHNSON: Actually, for the last couple of weeks, there's been a lot of shootings over here.

CORLEY: Last night's shooting left 13 injured in all. Most were adults but included two teenagers, and the youngest victim, Deonta Howard, is a three-year-old child. His adult cousin, Naftale Duke, says he had been at the park earlier and found out later his little cousin had been shot.

NAFTALE DUKE: He's in stable condition but heavily sedated. He had a gunshot wound to the lower part, by his ear that exited through his mouth or vice versa. And they're saying he's going to be OK, but he possibly has to undergo plastic surgery.

CORLEY: Chicago police superintendent Garry McCarthy says it's a miracle that there were no fatalities and the injuries of those wounded are not life-threatening. McCarthy said the incident appears to be gang-related and says the shooter or shooters used an assault-style weapon with a high-capacity magazine. He says what's needed in Chicago and across the country are laws that keep some weapons off the street.

GARRY MCCARTHY: Illegal guns, illegal guns, illegal guns drive violence and military-type weapons like the one we believe to have been used in this shooting belong on a battlefield, not on a street or in a corner or in a park in the Back of the Yards.

CORLEY: There were more than 500 gun-related murders in Chicago last year. So far this year, the numbers are down by 22 percent. McCarthy says overall, shootings and injuries are also down, but he says now is not the time to talk statistics. Meantime, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who called last night's shooting senseless, says the perpetrators will be caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent. Cheryl Corley, NPR News, Chicago. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.