Shooting in Chicago Heights critically injures girl, 3, riding in car with mother

CHICAGO HEIGHTS, Ill. -- A toddler was critically wounded by gunfire Tuesday as she was being driven by her mother in south suburban Chicago Heights.

Officers responded to calls of shots fired about 6:05 a.m. in the 1600 block of School Street, and learned that a 3-year-old girl was being driven by her mother to Franciscan Health Olympia Fields hospital, Chicago Heights Police Chief Thomas Rogers said in a statement.

The child's mother told investigators she was driving on School Street when she heard what sounded like a tire pop, and looked in the backseat of her car when she heard her daughter crying. She saw blood coming down the side of her head. She drove immediately to the hospital. The girl was airlifted from Olympia Fields to Comer Children's Hospital in Chicago, where she remains in critical condition.

Officers found a crime scene in the 1600 block of Aberdeen Street, Rogers said. The Washington-McKinley Elementary School is located in the same block.

It was unclear who was the target of the shooting. Rogers could not immediately be reached for comment.

"We heard, like, a bang-bang, and I thought - the gentleman over here does metalwork, and I thought that was him pounding on metal," said Ray Spencer, neighbor. "And after I just got home from work I heard there was a little girl shot.

"These neighborhoods around here are pretty troubled by a lot of gang violence and stuff like that, so it's not unheard of, but it's pretty shocking that it happened right here, by where I live," said neighbor Jorge Chavez.

Chicago Heights police and Illinois State Police were investigating at the scene, Rogers said. The South Suburban Major Crimes Taskforce is assisting in the investigation.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire - Copyright Chicago Sun-Times 2019.)

WLS-TV contributed to this report.