Community outraged after woman killed in gang crossfire in Bronzeville

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In Chicago, 15 people, including Yvonne Nelson, were fatally shot this week. (WLS)

An anti-gun violence event on the South Side on Saturday punctuated outrage in the community after an innocent woman was killed a day before when she was struck by gang crossfire while leaving a Starbucks in Bronzeville.

Yvonne Nelson, 49, was a city employee who worked as a 311 operator, was an innocent bystander when she was fatally shot Friday afternoon, officials said.

"A cup of coffee? I should be able to go get a cup of coffee and not lose my life," said Pastor John Hannah, of New Life Covenant Church, where the victim's sister attends church.

Before the shooting, the church had already planned to hold the sixth annual "Prayer on the 9," a public event which aims to protest the gun violence, on Saturday. After the shooting, the event held even greater meaning. A total of 15 people, including Nelson, were fatally shot this week.

"The blood of our children is running down our street. It's time to say enough," said Father Michael Pfleger, of St. Sabina Church on the South Side.

Despite the outcry, there was an outburst of violence Saturday evening when six people were shot just between 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., including a 19-year-old who was shot twice in the back and once in the chest. The teen was in a parked car near 115th and South Stewart when someone in another vehicle drove up and fired.

Three males were shot at about 9 p.m. while standing near 63rd and Normal. A 21-year-old and 27-year-old were each shot in the foot. A 31-year-old was shot in the back.

Saturday morning, the "Prayer on the 9" group gathered at East 79th and South Greenwood for prayer and song. Then, participants -- dressed in red -- laid in the street and formed a two-mile line along 79th to the Dan Ryan Expressway, holding photos of loved ones killed in gun violence.

"Kids should know the sound of laughter, not the sounds of gunfire," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.

Nelson was an innocent bystander. A man in his 20s, who was shot multiple times, was targeted, said Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson. He was hospitalized in critical condition Friday evening. He is a documented gang member, Johnson said.

Nelson was not with the male shooting victim, police said. The man was picking up his paycheck from a nearby fast-food restaurant.

"All of us inside were quite upset when we first saw that coming out," said Jason Poe, a co-worker of the male victim. "That could not be further from the truth."

Police were searching Friday for the male shooter. They were seen searching nearby homes.

The incident happened at about 4 p.m. at 35th and South State streets, across from the Illinois Tech campus and down the street from U.S. Cellular Field.

Nelson, who lived in Bronzeville, was shot in the street after buying tea. She was headed home after work.

"I just remember her kind of hanging out just waiting to get her drink," said Joshua Lott, who saw the victim in Starbucks before she was shot. "One minute she's there, and the next minute she's not. She's not even alive."

On Saturday, several bouquets of flowers were placed in front of the Starbucks. Friends remembered Nelson -- whose nickname was Rudy -- as a loving and kind person, who was loyal to her family and adored her dog, Max.

"She was well-loved by everybody and I always thought of her as a sister because for over 35 years she became part of my family, I became part of her family. And it's just an incredible loss for both sides," said friend Traci Warr-Haskell.

Supt. Johnson will talk about Chicago's gun violence on Monday's "Windy City Live" episode, which airs at 11 a.m. on ABC7. The visit will be his first extended interview since he was appointed as the city's top cop.
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