CHICAGO — A 1-year-old boy is in critical condition after he was shot in the right temple while he was in a car traveling north on Lake Shore Drive near Grant Park on Tuesday morning, according to preliminary information from Chicago police.
Witnesses called police just after 11 a.m. Central time when they heard shots fired on South Lake Shore Drive in the Loop, police said. A female passenger was seen getting out of the car with a toddler, and she was taken by an unknown person to Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
The shooting was motivated by road rage, Chicago police Central District Cmdr. Jake Alderden said at a news conference outside Northwestern’s emergency center. The shooter and the victims do not appear to know each other, but the dispute was believed to be over someone not letting someone else into their lane of traffic somewhere between Roosevelt Road and Monroe Street on Lake Shore Drive.
Shots were fired for about two blocks in the northbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive from the 1100 block of South Lake Shore Drive to the 900 block of South Lake Shore Drive, Alderden said. Shell casings were found along the two blocks.
The child was shot in the head, and the vehicle the child was in crashed at Monroe Street and Lake Shore Drive, Alderden said. That’s when a good Samaritan driving a gray Tesla took the child and a man and a woman who were also in the vehicle to the hospital.
A handgun was found with an occupant of the victim’s vehicle, Alderden said. It’s unclear if the gun was fired during the incident.
Detectives are investigating if the gun found was legally owned and are interviewing the man who was a passenger in the vehicle that was shot at, police spokesman Tom Ahern said. It’s unclear what the relationship between the man, woman and child are.
Detectives are withholding information of the vehicle that the shooter was in, Alderden said.
The child was transferred to Lurie’s Children Hospital in critical condition, police said. Chicago Fire Department confirmed that city EMS did not transport the boy from Lake Shore Drive to the hospital.
A gray Tesla sat under the overhang outside of Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s emergency center. Yellow police taped draped over it and officers stood beside it. Around 3 p.m., evidence technicians worked on the car.
Police first said the child was 3 years old, then corrected to 2 years old. Ahern then said Tuesday afternoon that the child is 1 year old, almost 2, according to a doctor.
At the crash scene at Monroe and Lake Shore Drive, tourists crossed the street and stopped to take photos of the crime scene. A 60-year-old woman stood on the sidewalk next to her damaged gray SUV Lexus parked on Monroe.
The woman said she was stopped in the northbound lane on Lake Shore Drive to turn on Monroe to go to a doctor’s appointment at Northwestern Memorial Hospital when she was suddenly rear-ended by a white Lincoln car that was speeding. The woman asked not to be named out of concern for her safety.
The impact caused her SUV to jet out and then she saw a woman exit the Lincoln carrying a child.
“She came out of the car screaming, ‘My baby has been shot,’” she said.
“At first, I thought it was a prank,” the woman said, adding she did not hear gunshots. “I was kind of confused from the impact of the accident.”
The woman holding the child then began asking drivers for help, but the 60-year-old woman said she pulled her damaged SUV over to Monroe and didn’t see the woman and child leave. About 1:15 p.m., the northbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive between Roosevelt and Monroe were still blocked off, and a tow truck removed the Lincoln, which had at least one bullet hole through the bottom of the rear passenger window. A child’s car seat could be seen inside.
The woman said she was waiting for a tow truck to pick up her SUV before she went to the hospital because she was feeling nauseous and pressure to her collarbone from the crash. The woman, from Chicago, said when she learned that the child was actually shot she was in shock.
“Unbelievable,” she said. “In the broad open daylight. It was unbelievable.”
At an unrelated City Hall news conference Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said her information was that the child is a 1-year-old and the shooting involved crossfire between both vehicles. She also said that getting upset enough over a road incident that would result in gunfire “is an absurdity” to her.
“Obviously, any time anyone is shot in Chicago it’s tragic, particularly when it’s a child,” Lightfoot said. “It’s mind-boggling to me that people carry guns in the way that they do; that they use them in the way that they do; and they use them in that way when children are in the immediate proximity.”
The shooting comes the same day Vice President Kamala Harris is in Chicago to discuss vaccine distribution equity.
Ja’Mal Green, a community activist, said at a news conference that he has spoken to Chicago police about the shooting and decided to put up $5,000 of his own money as a reward to anyone who has information that will lead to the arrest of the shooter. Those with any information should contact Chicago police, he said.
“I am saddened, but more than anything, I am angry,” he said. “We have an epidemic in this city that has been going on for several years with violence.”
Green said he is also making a call to community members, activists, the mayor and the vice president.
“I understand how important it is to vaccinate people and talk about this COVID pandemic but here in Chicago folks every single day are walking around trying to dodge bullets in hopes that they can survive a nice day like today,” he said. “This should not be our reality.”
Street Pastor Donovan Price, who also held a news conference, said he had made contact with the child’s family and they are “just tears.”
Price referenced how just last month a 10-year-old boy was shot in the leg on the West Side and a 4-year-old boy was shot in the face on the South Side, and 11-year-old Ny’Andrea Dyer died about three weeks after being shot in the head as she sat in a parked vehicle at a West Pullman gas station.
“Where is a safe place? Is there a safe place?” Price said. “We’re running out of children.”
(Chicago Tribune’s Gregory Pratt and Charles J. Johnson contributed to this report.)