Chicago police learned on Monday evening that a 12-year-old girl was shot in Millennium Park during Saturday evening’s “large group” incident in the Loop. CPD learned of the shooting after the girl, initially hospitalized in Indiana, was transferred to Comer Children’s Hospital for treatment yesterday.
A 15-year-old boy was also shot, and a CTA bus driver was severely beaten during the hours-long incident.
Police said the 12-year-old was on the 100 block of North Michigan when someone fired shots toward a group of people around 8:40 p.m. Saturday. A bullet struck the girl in her back, police said, and she was taken to a hospital in Munster, Indiana, for treatment.
On Monday evening, CPD became aware of her injures when she transferred to Comer for more advanced care. She is listed in serious condition, according to Chicago police.
Millennium Park security closed the grounds around 8:30 p.m. Saturday after large groups of people ran for safety upon hearing sounds that 911 callers described as gunfire, but police chalked up to fireworks. Now, it appears, the sound may very well have been gunfire.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday said Saturday was simply, “some folks who are acting a fool.”
In a memo issued at 5:20 p.m. Monday, Chicago police leaders canceled one day off for all CPD officers beginning with cops who report to work late Wednesday night. The order did not cite a reason for the cancelations, but a social media account that helped organize last weekend’s “large group” is sharing plans for a follow-up event.
CWBChicago reported Monday evening that the organizers’ original announcement called for “Part 2” to start at 6 p.m. Friday at Millennium Park. By noon on Monday, that announcement was removed and replaced by an identical post with the date changed to Saturday, December 11 at 6 p.m.
So-called “trends” have had varying degrees of success in the past, with some drawing no crowds to the Loop and others attracting hundreds.
Unlike many previous “large group” incidents in the downtown area, Chicago police knew that last Saturday’s event would be happening. We even tweeted about CPD’s knowledge of the plans three hours before hundreds of teens and young adults began to arrive downtown.
So, what went wrong?
Officers who were on-scene Saturday point to a lack of leadership and, perhaps more tellingly, CPD’s failure to learn from similar events of the past. Many cops we spoke with said the department had resources in place, but high-ranking CPD leaders at the scene failed to use them effectively.
“[Tactical] teams were on stand by, and when they finally got there to help, there was no plan. Just kids running around and us chasing them around aimlessly,” one officer said. “This was the first large group since the Fourth of July weekend, and no lessons were learned since then.”
Many police brass who oversaw the Independence Day incident have been reassigned and demoted, so Saturday’s event was managed mainly by high-ranking cops who had no direct experience handling similar situations.
For example, some cops said CPD leaders failed to prepare for a possible mass arrest situation.
At 11 p.m. Saturday, at least one field supervisor wanted to start locking up teens for curfew violations – a strategy CPD used successfully on July 4. Higher-ranking police leaders nixed that plan, officers said.
“Maybe the 15-year-old would not have been shot if we could have just scooped up all curfews like our supervisor asked?” one cop reflected.
“The stuff we can actually control, like mass arrests and curfews, we disregard and instead just stick to the same plan of chasing our own tails,” he continued. “We seem to never learn and we are stuck with people that have no clue leading us down the wrong paths.”
Ald. Brendan Reilly, whose 42nd ward includes much of downtown, also suggested the city’s response should start with the basics.
“Why do I keep reading about 13- and 14-year-olds being shot at 2 or 3 in the morning?” Reilly asked in an interview with Crain’s columnist Greg Hinz. “At the end of the day, we still have massive violence, injuries, and property damage.”
“The resources were deployed [on Saturday], but chaos ensued,” Reilly said, adding that CPD’s weekend strategy — whatever it was — “failed.”