Chicago's top police official said Friday an assault-style weapon with a high-capacity magazine was used in a late-night attack that wounded 13 people and it's a "miracle" that no one was killed.
Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said such weapons belong on a battlefield, not on American streets, and that laws are needed to restrict such weapons.
McCarthy said investigators believe several people were involved in Thursday's attack, which appeared to be gang-related. Several victims are gang members. No arrests had been made.
The attack was the latest violence in a city that has struggled to stop such shootings by increasing police patrols. Chicago's number of homicides last year topped 500 for the first time since 2008.
Injured 3-year-old doing well, family says
A 3-year-old boy, Deonta Howard, was critically hurt but was alert when he arrived at a hospital and seemed to be doing well, family and friends said. Two other people were in critical condition. The others were reportedly in serious or fair condition.
The attack happened while a park was still crowded with people watching a basketball game and enjoying a warm summer night.
The child's uncle, Julian Harris, told the Chicago Sun-Times that dreadlocked men in a grey sedan shot at him Thursday night before turning toward nearby Cornell Square Park and opening fire. He said his nephew was shot in the cheek.
"They hit the light pole next to me, but I ducked down and ran into the house," Harris said. "They've been coming 'round here looking for people to shoot every night, just gang-banging stuff. It's what they do."
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Ron Gaines, a department spokesman, said no arrests had been made and that victims were being interviewed to try to determine the circumstances surrounding the attack, which happened shortly after 10 p.m. local time.
Officer Amina Greer said at least 10 ambulances responded to the scene, transporting victims to several area hospitals. One victim transported himself to a hospital, police said.
Among the 13 victims were at least two minors, ages 15 and 17.
The three-year-old boy was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital. Hospital officials declined to disclose his condition, but fire officials said the boy's condition was critical.
The Rev. Corey Brooks, a pastor at New Beginnings Church, spoke with family members outside the hospital and said the boy was resting with his mother.
"He was talking when they first brought him in, but he's heavily sedated now," he said.
"They say he's good," said Semecha Nunn, the boy's grandmother. "They going to have to do a little plastic surgery on him, but he's OK."
Francis John, 70, said she was in her apartment when the shooting occurred. She said she went down to see what was going on and "a lot of youngsters were running scared." A 30-year resident, she said she was surprised by what had happened.
She told the Sun-Times there hasn't been much gun violence in the neighbourhood in recent years, adding the neighbourhood went from good to bad 10 years ago, to better recently.
The shooting comes nearly three weeks after Chicago saw an outburst of violence over the Labour Day weekend that ended with eight dead and 20 others injured.
Following a surge in homicides and shootings last year, the police department stepped up its crime-fighting efforts by, among other things, paying overtime to add patrols to some neighbourhoods, including the Back of the Yards.