Flanked by other top local CPD officials, Area 1 Deputy Chief Don Jerome stands in the middle of Damen Avenue Saturday night as he leads a press briefing. --Supplied photo

Flanked by other top local CPD officials, Area 1 Deputy Chief Don Jerome stands in the middle of Damen Avenue Saturday night as he leads a press briefing. --Supplied photo

‘Horrific and unacceptable’

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Police, neighbors decry shooting at family party

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By Tim Hadac

Drive-by shootings have become not at all unusual in recent years in Back of the Yards. Some might even call them common.

What is still uncommon is for drive-by crimes to injure or even kill young children.

But that is exactly what happened at about 9:18 p.m. Saturday, April 13 in the southwest corner of the neighborhood, in the 2000 block of West 52nd Street.

Nine-year-old Ariana Molina was celebrating at a family party when she was shot in the head—one of 11 people, all relatives, struck by gunfire at the scene.

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Ariana Molina –Supplied photo

Police responding to a ShotSpotter alert encountered a scene that was confusing at best and bedlam at worst—with victims and others shrieking in the night, said one neighbor who asked that her identity not be disclosed.

Gunmen in a black sedan sprayed the family with bullets before speeding away south on Damen. Police reportedly found more than 70 bullet casings at the scene.

Police, as well as paramedics at the scene, worked quickly to stanch the blood flowing from victims’ wounds, the neighbor added.

Ariana was transported to Comer Children’s Hospital, where she was pronounced dead a short time later.

Other shooting victims were taken to various hospitals. They included:

  • A year-old boy shot multiple times in the abdomen, in critical condition.
  • An 8-year-old boy shot twice in the abdomen, in critical condition.
  • A 9-year-old boy who suffered a graze wound to a finger, in good condition.
  • A 19-year-old woman shot in the left leg, in good condition.
  • A 26-year-old woman shot in the right thigh, in good condition.
  • A 30-year-old woman shot in the left forearm, in good condition.
  • A 36-year-old man shot in the right bicep, tricep and left side of the back, in critical condition.
  • A 36-year-old woman shot in the left side of the back, in good condition. That victim is Ariana’s mother, according to published reports.
  • A 38-year-old man shot in the left leg, in good condition.
  • A 40-year-old woman shot in the right leg, in good condition.

‘Horrific and unacceptable’

While some living in Back of the Yards appear to have become a bit numb to the ongoing violence in the neighborhood, police brass expressed outrage over the shootings.

GSWNH 52DamenShootingBriefing 041924

Flanked by other top local CPD officials, Area 1 Deputy Chief Don Jerome stands in the middle of Damen Avenue Saturday night as he leads a press briefing. –Supplied photo

“This was not a random act of violence. It was likely gang related,” CPD Area 1 Deputy Chief Don Jerome said at a press briefing held in the middle of the street Saturday night. “Regardless of the motivation for this incident, three innocent children were struck tonight, and one of them tragically succumbed to her wounds. The offenders’ actions, make no mistake, are horrific and unacceptable in our city.”

In a television interview, Ariana’s father, Jose—himself shot in the leg—appeared to express doubt that the shootings were gang related.

Mayor Brandon Johnson went beyond police speculation about the possibility of the crime being perpetrated by a gang, and said it as a fact.

Additionally, he said his administration would respond with several measures:

  • A mass canvassing event at 52ndand Damen and surrounding blocks at 2 p.m. Monday, April 15, with the purpose of providing the community access to behavioral teams, victim services and case management.
  • Financial support for the family of Ariana Molina, via the Emergency Supplemental Victim’s Fund program.
  • Victim services to other victims and families.
  • Increased CPD presence at local schools.

Johnson’s statement did not mention any specific measures to confront gangs. That omission did not sit well with a few shoppers at 47th and Damen.

“The mayor’s thoughts and prayers are fine, but that won’t stop the gangs or even slow them down for a second,” said Julio Barrera. “The gangs all know that. This violence will continue if we keep getting weak leadership from City Hall, and that’s what we have.”

“A mass canvassing event? What’s that?” asked one woman who asked that her identity not be disclosed. “Like they’re going door to door? With what? Pamphlets that say please don’t shoot? What a joke. It’s a joke. If I could afford to move out of here, I would. But I’m stuck.”

Lucinda Alma-Ramirez said she hopes Johnson and other elected officials “come up with something better than what we got now, because what we got now ain’t working.”

1 Comment

  1. Randy on April 16, 2024 at 2:58 pm

    Broken Record, it’s only April. Sad!



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