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3 girls caught in gang crossfire in Chicago: ‘They don’t care who they shoot’

Police were on scene for a shooting in the 3400 block of West Walnut Street on July 1, 2018. (Madeline Buckley/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

The father saw a police officer he recognized from long ago.

“He was my school police officer,” he told his family, gathered at Stroger Hospital in Chicago. He rushed over and gave the officer a hug.

Then his story tumbled out.

His three daughters, 5, 14 and 15, had been shot in an attack on the West Side that injured six people Sunday night. The girls had been in a car with their mother when they were caught in the crosshairs of a gang conflict, Chicago police said. His middle daughter was critical.

The father was surrounded by more than a dozen family members, all waiting for updates from police and hospital staff.

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The officer’s face crumpled. “If you need anything in there,” he said, “tell them to get me.”

The family members hugged each other and cried, standing vigil outside the emergency room for hours Sunday night and early Monday.

“It was a bunch of kids shot,” a woman said. “They don’t care who they shoot.”

The family otherwise declined to comment.

The children were shot just before 10 p.m. in the 3400 block of West Walnut Street in the East Garfield Park neighborhood. A black sedan was traveling east on Walnut when the occupants saw a group of people on the sidewalk, according to Area North Deputy Police Chief Al Nagode.

Someone got out of the car and began firing. “The mother and three children, all under 15, were caught in this crossfire,” Nagode said.

The mother drove to Presence St. Mary’s Hospital, but two of the children were transferred to Stroger Hospital. Their car remained at St. Mary’s, surrounded by crime scene tape and its hazard lights blinking.

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The 14-year-old girl was shot in the chest, arm and abdomen and was in critical condition at Stroger Hospital. The 15-year-old girl was hit in the thigh and was in good condition at Presence St. Mary’s Hospital. The 5-year-old was shot in the arm and was stabilized at Stroger.

Three others were shot: a 20-year-old woman, a 17-year-old boy and a 26-year-old man. They were standing on the street when the sedan passed. The woman was shot in the chest and arm and was in serious condition at Mount Sinai Hospital. The 17-year-old was hit in the foot and was in good condition at Stroger. The man was shot in the thigh and was also in good condition at the same hospital.

Nagode said the shooting stemmed from “historical gang conflicts,” adding that the department had flooded the area with resources this weekend to prevent such an incident.

“Right now I have a young lady in critical condition fighting for her life over at the hospital,” he said. “The senseless gun violence occurring here catches another family in its crosshairs.”

The attack is at least the sixth in two weeks in which four or more people were shot.

At the scene on Walnut, shell casings were scattered across the intersection of Walnut and Homan Avenue. A crowd of at least a dozen teenagers or young adults sat on porches or stood in groups on the sidewalk.

Terry Gage, who lives a few blocks away, came out with a group from Breakthrough, a nonprofit organization that focuses on poverty on the West Side. They hoped to talk with some of the teens or young adults.

“When it gets hot out, everyone comes back out, and that’s when the retaliation happens,” Gage said. “I’ve been seeing it for so long.”

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© 2018 Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.