14-year-old shot as ‘large group’ gathers nearby at 31st Street Beach

CHICAGO — The city once again struggled to control a large group of young people who gathered Friday evening at 31st Street Beach, a popular spot for social media-driven gatherings during warm weather.

Chicago police said a 14-year-old boy was shot in the immediate area, and officers arrested at least one person for illegal gun possession. A video on social media showed a car burning in the street.

Subscribers to the city’s “Notify Chicago” alert system were warned of “over 300 people” who arrived at 31st Street Beach at 7:38 p.m. A few minutes later, the city texted subscribers a “Critical Alert” regarding a “Public Assembly” at the beach.

A car burns near 31st Street Beach as a large group gathered near the lakefront on April 14, 2023 | @ChicagoCritter

An internal Chicago police message sent around the same time said “approximately 350 teens” were gathered at the beach, and a squad car window had been broken. Earlier in the evening, the department’s intelligence center warned of a “possible large teen gathering” at the beach based on social media activity.

CPD said a 14-year-old boy was shot in the left thigh in the 3100 block of South Lake Shore Drive around 8:49 p.m. Friday, but the department did not release any details about what happened or exactly where the shooting occurred. A Chicago police report reviewed by CWBChicago listed the shooting address as 3101 South Lake Shore Drive, which is the address of 31st Street Beach.

Adding to the chaotic scene, a car burst into flames near the beach as crowd was gathered nearby. Video tweeted by @ChicagoCritter showed flames pouring from the vehicle, a fire truck nearby, and a large contingent of police officers watching from a distance. A second video that surfaced late on Saturday shows exactly what happened to the car before it caught on fire:

On Wednesday evening, more than 100 young people spontaneously gathered in Millennium Park until a fight broke out, prompting police to break it up. No arrests were made, but a 16-year-old girl was treated for a head injury.