HYDE PARK — Two men are dead and congressional candidate Jahmal Cole was shot at during a lunch-hour incident on 53rd Street as three violent incidents shook Hyde Park Tuesday.
A 31-year-old man died after being stabbed in his right leg about 6:30 a.m. in the 5300 block of Cottage Grove Avenue. A 28-year-old man stabbed the 31-year-old during a “domestic incident,” police said.
A 24-year-old man was shot and killed about 1:54 p.m. during a robbery in the 900 block of East 54th Place. Someone in a dark-colored car got out, demanded the man’s property and shot the victim in his chest before driving west on 54th Place, police said.
The man was a recent University of Chicago graduate, Eric Heath, associate vice president for safety and security, said Tuesday evening. No further details were immediately available. In response to the killing, the university’s private police force will “immediately” increase its patrols near campus, Heath said.
Prominent South Side activist Jahmal Cole said he was shot at in a third incident, which took place about noon in the 1500 block of East 53rd Street. The fatal shooting, fatal stabbing and lunch-hour gunfire all happened less than a mile from President Obama’s former home.
Cole, who is vying for Illinois’ 1st Congressional District seat, was not hit in Tuesday’s shooting. But he said Tuesday it’s actually the second time he’s been shot at in recent months — and the first incident left him wounded.
Cole said a bullet pierced his arm Sept. 29 at 69th Street and South Shore Drive — a shooting he previously hadn’t disclosed because he was working through the trauma of it. Police could not immediately confirm details from that shooting Tuesday but confirmed they had gotten a report of it at the time.
The second incident for Cole happened about 11:55 a.m. Tuesday. He was walking across 53rd Street at South Harper Avenue near Virtue restaurant, headed to Nando’s for a lunch meeting, when he heard shots.
“I knew it was an automatic rifle,” Cole said. More than 20 shots were fired, said the My Block, My Hood, My City founder.
Cole ran past a movie theater and an ice cream shop, jumped over a wooden fence and dove beneath a car.
“When I dove underneath a car, more shots were ringing,” he said.
When the shots stopped, Cole got up and his neck hurt. He assumed a bullet pierced his neck, but the pain was from hitting the ground hard when he dove for cover.
“One of my nails fell off and I got scraped up in my neck,” Cole said.
When Cole got up and retraced his steps, glass from a hotel and Kilwin’s ice cream shop covered the streets, evidence they’d been sprayed with bullets.
Cole told Block Club Chicago he doesn’t know if he was the target of the shooting.
“All I know if there’s an epidemic of mass shootings in this country, and it’s time for people to stand up and do something about it,” Cole said.
Besides Tuesday’s gunfire and the shooting in late September, Cole was shot at January 2018 at 71st and Morgan streets.
“I’m a candidate for US Congress and was just shot in the very same district I am running to represent,” Cole said in a Facebook post on Tuesday. “I had to dive under a car and then run for my life.
“I didn’t share the first incident because I wasn’t ready, dealing with my trauma [every day] still, but I need every elected official — and every person in this city — to understand how urgent this crisis is.
“I’m tired of people saying ‘be safe’ and ‘I’m staying out the way.’ I’m tired of running for my life. Things have to change now.”
Racial and economic injustice, underresourced schools and a lack of publicly funded mental health care, adequate jobs and housing lead to shootings, Cole said. He feels lucky to be alive.
“It’s not going to deter me,” he said. “Gun violence is a topic for me because I’m a victim of it.”
“There are plenty of people who don’t even live through it.
“We have to force the eyes of the nation among our communities. Because right now, there’s no sense of urgency. … Until people feel like they’re going to die, or it’s going to happen to them.”
No one was wounded in the 53rd Street shooting, police spokesperson Steve Rusanov said Tuesday afternoon, though two businesses and multiple cars were shot.
The suspected shooter was in a Hyundai Sonata that was reported stolen Monday, according to the Sun-Times.
Responding to the violent incidents, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Illinois) — who Cole is challenging — said local leaders must treat violence citywide as a public health crisis.
Rush was on UChicago’s campus Tuesday for a discussion on community violence prevention, alongside university President Paul Alivisatos, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and local activists.The fatal stabbing happened just two and a half hours before the discussion began; the 53rd Street shooting and the UChicago graduate’s killing occurred just hours after the discussion ended.
“It is tragic that this violence has visited the Hyde Park community today,” Rush said in a statement. “Sadly, no community in this city is immune to these episodes of violence.”