CHICAGO (WGN) — Two teens were shot and 15 people were arrested Saturday night during a large crowd disturbance in the Loop in downtown Chicago.
Chicago police said a 16-year-old male and a 17-year-old male were on East Washington Street west of Michigan Avenue, not far from Millennium Park, around 9 p.m. when shots were fired from an unknown person or persons.
The 16-year-old was taken to the hospital in fair condition with a gunshot wound to the arm. The 17-year-old was taken to the hospital in fair condition with a gunshot wound to the left leg.
A heavy presence of police officers was seen responding to the disturbance. WGN-TV News crews heard shots fired. At least two times, groups of teens were also seen punching, kicking and stomping on someone on the ground.
“The crime in Chicago is simply out of hand,” Patrick Gibbons, a community activist said. “It’s nuts.”
Cars were damaged after reports of teens jumping on cars.
The Chicago Transit Authority reported service disruptions on several lines due to the ongoing police activity in the Loop. Traffic was also disrupted in the area.
Another video sent to WGN-TV News shows a large group of teens gathering on North Michigan Avenue and some people standing on top of an entrance to a Grant Park garage.
In a statement, Chicago police said 15 people, nine adults and six juveniles, were arrested. Most were charged with reckless conduct, however, a 16-year-old boy is also facing a charge for unlawful use of a weapon.
Police said an adult and a juvenile were charged with possession of a stolen vehicle.
“Everyone is welcome and encouraged to enjoy all that Chicago has to offer including the popular downtown area, but criminal activity will never be tolerated,” a statement from Chicago police read. “Those engaged in criminal activity will be arrested and held accountable.”
Community activists are outraged and calling on city leaders to help address the crime.
“We need to give the Chicago Police Department the resources and funding they need to take care of this crime in our community,” Bill Morton said.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot released the following statement on Sunday.
“Twice in the last few days, several large groups of young people have gathered across the city. Many of them were there to have a good time and enjoy the unseasonably warm weather. However, some of those young people were involved in reckless, disrespectful and unlawful behavior. As I have said before, we as a city cannot and will not allow any of our public spaces to become a platform for criminal conduct. Most importantly, parents and guardians must know where their children are and be responsible for their actions. Instilling the important values of respect for people and property must begin at home.
“I appreciate the individuals and business people who have reached out to me to express concerns. I have shared those concerns with the acting Superintendent and senior leadership within the Police Department in very candid and productive conversations.
“CPD leadership has assured me that they will make the necessary adjustments to address these teen trends issues as we move into the summer months.
“We have invested millions of dollars to support community-based organizations to partner with youth to co-activate fun, safe spaces all over the City throughout the year. We ask parents to partner with us by making sure that your children’s plans are safe and that they know when to exit a situation before it becomes unsafe.”
On Sunday, mayor-elect Brandon Johnson said he doesn’t condone the actions of those who gathered.
“It is unacceptable and has no place in our city,” the statement from Johnson read. “However, it is not constructive to demonize youth who have otherwise been starved of opportunities in their own communities.”
“Our city must work together to create spaces for youth to gather safely and responsibly, under adult guidance and supervision, to ensure that every part of our city remains welcome for both residents and visitors,” Johnson said. “This is one aspect of my comprehensive approach to improve public safety and make Chicago livable for everyone.”
Margaret Hvatum, who is visiting Chicago, said she came to see the ballet, but it was the scene in front of her that caused her to move quickly back to her hotel.
“There were crowds in the streets, there were people yelling, there were police cars, so I used my running capability, and we basically ran back to our hotel,” Hvatum said.
She said she has been to the city many times before but feels uneasy after Saturday’s events.
“I’m kind of nervous about coming to Chicago in warmer weather again,” Hvatum said. “When it’s nice and cold, people seem to not be acting like this, but it was scary.”
Saturday was the second night in a row Chicago police officers responded to reports of teens creating disturbances.
A 14-year-old boy was shot in the left thigh around 8:50 p.m. Friday near the 31st Street beach.
Several other teens were wounded and one teen was killed in an overnight shooting.