Family IDs 9-year-old girl killed in in Back of the Yards shooting; 3 children among 10 others shot

3 boys -- ages 1, 8, and 9 -- were shot at the family gathering

ByChristian Piekos, Michelle Gallardo, Maher Kawash, and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Monday, April 15, 2024
Child killed in South Side shooting ID'd; 3 kids among 10 others shot
A Back of the Yards shooting in Chicago left 9-year-old Ariana Molina dead and 10 other people injured near 52nd Street and South Damen Avenue.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A child is dead and 10 other people are injured after a mass shooting at a family gathering on the city's South Side on Saturday night.

The shooting happened at about 9:18 p.m. near 52nd Street and South Damen Avenue, in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, Chicago police said.

At first I thought it was fireworks, but when I saw my daughter laying down on the floor with a bullet in the head, I realized it wasn't fireworks
Jose Molina, father of girl killed in shooting

Officers responded to a ShotSpotter alert for 18 gunshot rounds at the location, police said. They found multiple people shot and started performing live-saving measures on the victims.

A witness said they saw a black sedan approach the area, and someone unknown started shooting into the crowd before fleeing southbound on Damen Avenue, Chicago police said in an update on Sunday.

Police said the shooting was likely a targeted act of violence.

The victims included seven adults and four children, police said. A girl was shot in her head. She was taken to the hospital, where she later died.

The girl's father, Jose Molina, identified her as 9-year-old Ariana Molina.

"They had some big assault rifles, I guess, because it was too many shots... they shot my daughter in the head... my wife in the back... me in my leg... my two nephews and a couple more family members," Jose Molina said.

The adult victims included two men, ages 36 and 38, and five women, ages 19, 26, 30, 36 and 40. Three boys were injured, ages 1, 8 and 9.

SEE ALSO | Chicago shootings: At least 43 shot, 7 killed in weekend gun violence across city, police say

A celebratory banner from Saturday night's family gathering still hangs Sunday on the Back of the Yards home, which is now filled with grief and sadness. Jose Molina said his family was hosting a party to celebrate his sister's confirmation.

"We were about to cut the cake when they started shooting from nowhere," Molina said.

She was the best daughter ever... sweet... she loved to play... she was helpful... she was the best
Jose Molina

He said a barrage of gunfire came from the corner of Damen Avenue and 52nd Street, but it wasn't until the unthinkable happened that Molina understood what was happening.

"At first I thought it was fireworks, but when I saw my daughter laying down on the floor with a bullet in the head, I realized it wasn't fireworks," Molina said. "I tried helping her but it was too late... she had

Ariana was killed in an instant as she was one of 11 shot.

"The offenders actions, make no mistake, are horrific and unacceptable in our city," Chicago Police Department Deputy Chief Don Jerome said at a late Saturday night press conference.

All except one of the victims appear to be family members. In the hospital remains Molina's wife, who was shot in the back, along with his daughter's godfather and two nephews, who were shot several times in the stomach.

The victims have been successfully operated on, Molina said, but his wife still doesn't know their only daughter is dead as of Sunday afternoon.

"I haven't told my wife yet because she's still in a lot of pain of her own," he said. "I don't want to give her more pain at the moment."

Molina said he's desperately hoping police can find the people responsible for this shooting as he hangs onto the memories he has of his daughter.

"She was the best daughter ever... sweet... she loved to play... she was helpful... she was the best," he said.

Jose Molina

While police have said it was a targeted shooting that appears to be gang-related, Molina strongly refuted that while condemning what he said is the neighborhood's increasing violence.

"We were working on buying a house to get out of here because of this, and now it's too late," Molina said. "My daughter is not here no more."

Police say there are likely two shooters. No one is in custody.

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson issued a response plan Sunday, which includes a mass canvassing event Monday in the neighborhood as police continue to search for the suspects.

He said the city will be providing support for the victims family while increasing police patrols at nearby schools this week.

Johnson issued the following statement about the shooting just after 5 p.m. Sunday:

"This heinous and cowardly act of wanton violence that leaves our city mourning children is beyond reprehensible and has no place in our communities. We are all allowed to be outraged today - a warm, spring day that I am sure this child would have been enjoying with family. I am praying for her loved ones and her community as they experience the unimaginable pain of losing a child. I am also praying for the recovery of the three children and seven adults who were injured in this horrific shooting. Our Mayor's Office of Community Safety has been in contact with the Chicago Police Department, which is committed to identifying and apprehending the individuals responsible.

The Community Safety Coordination Center has developed an initial response plan, which, among other resources, will consist of:
  • A mass canvassing event at 52nd and Damen and surrounding blocks on Monday, April 15, at 2 p.m. with the purpose of providing the community access to behavioral teams, victim services and case management

  • Financial support for the family of the child who passed away via the Emergency Supplemental Victim's Fund program

  • Emergency Services Assistance Center, starting today, April 14

  • Victim services to other victims and families

  • Increased 9th District CPD presence at impacted schools

As the CPD and our partners work through their investigation, the Back of the Yards community has the full support of our administration as they process and heal from this trauma."

Alderman Stephanie Coleman, who represents Chicago's 16th Ward released the following statement on Sunday morning:

The Back of the Yards community is united in our grief, prayers, and collective mindset that we must continue to stand firm against these senseless acts of physical force.
Violence is a citywide issue that continues to falsely characterize the true essence and intrinsic nature of our neighborhoods. This tragedy has left us all heartbroken and distressed. I am hopeful and confident that Superintendent Snelling and the Chicago Police Department will work tirelessly to apprehend the person or persons responsible for this cowardly crime.
I want to send my heartfelt condolences to the family of this precious jewel and my prayers to every person injured."

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