In the wake of at least eight shootings on Chicago streets in about 24 hours, Chicago schools CEO Arne Duncan and a group of area ministers repeated their call for an end to the violence Wednesday. But just hours after they revealed their plans, yet another teenager was shot, apparently caught in gang crossfire on a basketball court near N. Orleans and W. Division.
This is a quickly gentrifying area in the heart of the old Cabrini Green neighborhood. In recent years, half-million dollar home sales have been more common than shootings.
The latest victim of violence may very well owe his life to a quick thinking and creative police sergeant.
Will Alston and some friends were among the dozens of people shooting hoops in Seward Park Wednesday evening when they witnessed a fist fight, then the real shooting began.
"They started arguing, running back and forth, they started throwing blows," said Alston. "That's when you heard three shots and everyone started running."
The crowd scattered to reveal a 17-year-old on the ground in front of the field house. He was bleeding badly from the leg.
"He was still conscious, we were attempting to keep talking to him, maintain eye contact and try to keep him conscious so his chances would be better," said Sgt. Adria Mheenbeek, Chicago Police Department.
Mheenbeek and other officers feared the bullet hit the teen in an artery. As they waited for paramedics, Mheenbeek looked around for something to create tourniquet to slow the boy's blood loss. They found crime tape.
"You're trying to save somebody and you use what you have available and try to do the best you can," said Mheenbeek. "It's what we had and it actually worked pretty well."
The shooting happened just a few hours after Chicago Public Schools Chief Arne Duncan and a group of local ministers called for churches to open their doors for community activities between 3 and 7 p.m. Those are the prime hours for shootings.
They say the call for change is more urgent than ever. A large group of ministers met to call for whatever it takes. They represent hundreds of churches throughout Chicago and say it's time for the churches to step up and try to solve this problem of gun violence among young people.
By school district count there were seven shootings Tuesday night. They happened between the hours of 3 and 7 in the evening and they are calling for churches to open up for afterschool activities during those hours/ They plan three days of fasting and prayer between April 21 and 23rd, between the hours of 6 a.m. And 6 p.m., then the churches will be open on those days for prayer between 7 and 8 p.m.
"It's imperative we begin to make it difficult for thugs, gang bangers and criminals to get guns," said Pastor Ira Acree, Greater St. John Bible Church.
"We as a state, we as a country, have to create a climate in which our children can be safe and not live in fear. We have to challenge a status quo in which children are not only dying, but too often are living in fear, talking about if I grow up, not when I grow up," said Arne Duncan, Chicago Public Schools CEO.
Duncan says church leaders are very effective when they use their morale authority as voices in the community. The pastors present Wednesday say passing stricter gun legislation is definitely in their plans.