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A man was arrested early Sunday after allegedly shooting 15 people at an unsanctioned Halloween party in North Lawndale just minutes after he had been thrown out, police said.
William Betancourt, commander of the Chicago Police Department’s Ogden District, told reporters the “senseless act of violence” occurred around 1 a.m. in the 1200 block of South Pulaski Road.
Some of the roughly 100 partygoers told officers that the alleged shooter “was ejected from the party, and he came back a few minutes later with a gun and he began to shoot,” Betancourt said during a news conference Sunday afternoon.
The suspect was taken into custody a short time later in the 4000 block of West 14th Street, Betancourt said, crediting attendees of the party who provided his description and path of flight. A gun was recovered.
The victims of the attack ranged in age from 26 to 53, including nine men and six women, Betancourt said. Two of them were critically wounded, while the others were listed in good-to-fair condition.
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Reshorna Fitzpatrick, the executive pastor at the historic Stone Temple Church, leads a prayer outside Studio 1258 on Sunday after a mass shooting injured 15 people. Anthony Vazquez / Chicago Sun-Times
Andre Williams, one of the performers at the party, said the suspect had argued with security before letting off shots.
“He came back and put his arm through the door and started shooting,” Williams told Network Video Productions Inc., which shared video of the interview.
Another video circulating on social media appeared to show the frantic scene after the shooting, with some of the victims still bleeding on the ground.
Police radio transmissions further describe the chaotic aftermath in which many victims took themselves to hospitals as officers arrived and struggled to accurately count the number of wounded.
Officers, responding to a ShotSpotter gunshot detection alert, arrived as the gunman was still firing. “They’re still shooting,” one officer radioed.
Glen Brooks, the director of community policing for the Chicago Police Department, said the entire neighborhood will need to heal from the “trauma” of the shooting.
“If we don’t address this, we know hurt people can hurt other people,” Brooks said during the news conference. “We’re trying to break that cycle.”
Brooks said an emergency assistance center will provide resources for those affected by the shooting. The center will open at the Young Men’s Educational Network, 1241 S. Pulaski Road, on Tuesday.
The party was held at Studio 1258, an art gallery that Betancourt said has a “history of throwing unlicensed events.” Police said Studio 1258 will be closed under the city’s summary closure ordinance, which gives the department the power to immediately shut down businesses associated with violence.
The business, located at 1258 S. Pulaski Road, previously received a cease-and-desist order and citations for operating without proper licenses, a spokesperson for the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection said in a statement.
A person associated with the business couldn’t be reached.
Ivan Capifali, the agency’s first deputy commissioner, said BACP will wait for the police investigation to conclude before starting its own probe.
Sunday’s attack was the largest mass shooting recorded in Chicago so far this year.
In the Ogden District — which includes parts of the Little Village, North Lawndale and Heart of Chicago neighborhoods — shootings and homicides have continued to fall, mirroring a citywide trend.
Shootings in the district have dropped 22% from the same time last year, from 179 to 140 through Oct. 22, according to police department statistics. Murders have decreased 9% over the same period, from 34 to 31.
Ald. Monique Scott (24th) speaks about the mass shooting outside the scene at Studio 1258 on Sunday. Anthony Vazquez / Chicago Sun-Times
Still, local Ald. Monique Scott expressed concern that “senseless” acts of violence are becoming “normalized” in the 24th Ward. “I don’t know whether to scream or cry,” she told reporters.
After the news conference, community members gathered near the scene of the shooting. Reshorna Fitzpatrick, the executive pastor of Stone Temple Missionary Baptist Church in North Lawndale, led a prayer.
“My heart is so heavy because it really doesn’t have to be this way,” Fitzpatrick said after the gathering.