DOWNTOWN — One person was being questioned after a 21-month-old boy was shot in the head and critically wounded during a Downtown road rage incident on Lake Shore Drive, police said Tuesday night.
At about 11 a.m., the toddler was in his child seat in a car going north on Lake Shore Drive when someone in another car fired shots, with one shot hitting the boy in his temple, police said. The child has been identified as Kayden Swann, according to Chicago legal firm Legal Help Firm, which has been in touch with the toddler’s family.
The boy’s great-grandfather, Clifton Marvel, told WGN Tuesday night outside Lurie’s Children’s Hospital that “it looks to be like he’s gonna be OK. The bullet went in and came out.” Additionally, a spokesman from Legal Help Firm told Block Club that the bullet entered the boy’s temple and exited near his jaw.
A police report said the traffic altercation started as far south as 35th and Lake Shore Drive and continued as the cars traveled north. The report said the boy’s grandmother was in the front passenger seat of a white Lincoln and her boyfriend was driving, with the boy in a carseat in the back seat. The report described the other vehicle as an SUV.
Someone from the SUV began firing shots at the Lincoln near Roosevelt Road and several shots hit the vehicle, along with the boy, according to the police report. It also cited a witness who said the grandmother’s boyfriend returned fire. The report also said the grandmother’s boyfriend was arrested at Northwestern Memorial Hospital for having a 9mm Bersa handgun.
The shooting appeared to have resulted from a road rage confrontation, Central (1st) District Police Cmdr. Jake Alderden told reporters. Police found multiple shell casings along the two-block stretch of the 900 through 1100 blocks of South Lake Shore Drive near Grant Park.
“It appears they’re completely unknown to each other and there was a dispute possibly over somebody not letting somebody into a lane,” Alderden said. “It appears it was an ongoing situation.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday it appears people in both cars were firing shots.
After the child was shot, the driver of a white car the boy was in crashed near Lake Shore Drive and Monroe Street. There, a good Samaritan in a gray Tesla stopped to help and took the toddler and two adults with him to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Alderden said.
The toddler was transferred to Lurie Children’s Hospital in critical condition, said Dr. Marcelo Malakooti, medical director of Lurie’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. The child remained in critical condition as of Tuesday afternoon.
“He is requiring full critical care support. We are doing all we can do for this little boy and thank everyone for their concern,” Malakooti said in a statement.
A gun was found in the car the toddler was riding in, but Alderden said, “We’re still establishing whether or not that gun was fired during this incident.”
Police said early Tuesday afternoon they would release a description of the car the shooter was in when more details are available. Later in the evening, they said detectives are questioning one person.
Lightfoot said it’s a tragedy anytime someone is shot in Chicago, but particularly when the victim is a child. She called for universal background checks and said it makes no sense people can get a gun as easily as they can a pack of cigarettes or a beer.
“… 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 that they use them when children are in the immediate proximity,” she said.
Police initially gave the boy’s age as 3, but later said he is 21 months old.
Activist Andrew Holmes said he was planning to go to the hospital to comfort the boy’s family and was trying to find out the details of what happened.
“These babies just don’t have a chance out here. People think they can shoot and there will be no repercussions, but this baby is in pain,” Holmes said.
Speaking outside of Northwestern, activist and former mayoral candidate Ja’Mal Green offered a $5,000 reward for anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest of the shooter. He said he is personally putting up the money.
“I’m also making a call to all those community members, to the mayor and most importantly, to our Vice President Kamala Harris who just touched down in Chicago today. 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. This should not be our reality…”
“We aren’t tolerating this by any means, we are not standing for any young person that is shooting people in these communities, or shooting family members and especially shooting kids. We’re not tolerating it,” Green said.
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