CHICAGO —The family of a 7-year-old girl shot early Christmas Day on Chicago’s Southwest Side thanked the public Thursday for “the outpouring of love and support” as the child remained in critical condition.
The message was released by Stroger Hospital, where the girl was taken after she was shot while watching television in the living room of a home on South Washtenaw Avenue just after 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to Chicago police.
“The family … is grateful for the outpouring of love and support,” the statement read. “At this time, the family is requesting privacy.”
The gunfire came from outside the home in Brighton Park and was aimed at a known gang member who was walking back from a gas station down the street, police said. A black sedan pulled up and a gunman got out of a rear passenger door, yelling a gang slogan as he fired at least eight shots.
The 38-year-old target was hit in both legs and grazed in the head, police said. He went on his own to St. Anthony Hospital and was listed in good condition.
One of the bullets crashed through a front window of the home, tore through a couch and hit the girl in the right elbow, back and chest, police said.
As emergency vehicles arrived at the scene, lights from a police car and an ambulance flashed alongside blinking Christmas decorations outside the three-flat, according to a video taken by Network Video Productions and obtained by the Chicago Tribune.
A paramedic emerged from the home carrying the girl in his arms to the ambulance. Speechless and wide-eyed, two men and a woman could be seen trailing closely behind. At least six creased notecards served as makeshift evidence markers next to shell casings strewn across 35th Place.
A hand railing outside the home was decorated in silver, red and green garland. Candy cane ornaments glowed on the lawn. The bullet left a hole through a window decorated with the image of a Christmas tree and “Merry Christmas.” The red brick home sits across the street from Burroughs Elementary School.
Police said no one was in custody Thursday.
The girl lives in suburban Hanover Park and had been visiting relatives, according to Andrew Holmes, a community activist who spoke with the family. In the moments before she was shot, she had been playing with two younger cousins in front of a couch in the living room while her aunts and uncles sat around the dining table, eating and talking, Holmes said.
It was the second time in nearly two months that a 7-year-old girl was hit by an errant bullet on a holiday. On Halloween, a girl was shot while trick-or-treating in the Little Village neighborhood. She was shot by a gang member aiming at a rival. She has since returned to school.
The latest shooting grabbed the attention of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who expressed concern for the family and called on the public to come forward with any information.
“As we gather for the holiday, we renew our commitment to protect our children from harm,” Lightfoot said on Twitter. “To the family, CPD will do everything possible to bring the perpetrator to justice. As a city, you have our love and support.”
Holmes canvassed the neighborhood Christmas morning, searching for tips. “I don’t feel like doing Christmas today,” he said. “I want to help this family. This child’s Christmas has turned into a disaster. Hopefully we can find the individual who discharged that weapon. That should be Christmas for them, Christmas for me.”