Two sisters were shot outside Division Street bars in the Gold Coast. Credit: Noah Asimow/ Block Club Chicago

GOLD COAST — Police have charged a Kankakee man after two women were shot as they waited for a rideshare pickup on a crowded, Near North Side street early Saturday morning. 

Jermaine T. Purdis, 37, was charged with one felony count of unlawful use of a weapon. Judge Barbara Dawkins set bond at $15,000 during a Sunday hearing.

The shooting happened at about 3:15 a.m. Saturday as bars were closing on the 100 block of West Division Street, the bustling Clark and Division stretch of nearly a dozen bars and clubs.

Officers detailed to the neighborhood heard gunshots coming from approximately 10 W. Division St. They ran to the scene and saw Purdis run from behind a car and into the street with a gun in his hand, prosecutors said.

“Officers tackled the defendant, and at that time, the defendant dropped the firearm on the ground,” a prosecutor said. 

The officers recovered the gun — a loaded Walther .380 caliber pistol, prosecutors said. Purdis has no conceal carry license, and is a convicted felon, prosecutors said. 

Police said in an initial report they found two victims at the scene, ages 29 and 26. The 29-year-old victim sustained a graze wound to the left side of her head, while the 26-year-old victim sustained two gunshot wounds to the left leg and buttocks. Both women were taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in good condition. 

Purdis was not charged with shooting the victims. Police did not immediately respond to further questions about whether the alleged shooter was in custody.

A police spokesman Sunday said the victims were bystanders and not the intended targets of the gunshots. 

“They were waiting on a ride-share driver when they heard the offender arguing with other individuals and they heard shots and felt pain,” the spokesman said in an email. 

A neighbor who lives just north of Division and heard the gunshots said her mother knows the victims, who are sisters.

An attorney representing Purdis said he was in town to attend a funeral for a cousin and has previously worked as a forklift operator. 

Workers at bars on Division on Saturday said they heard about 10 gunshots. With the recent spike in violence in the area, bars and nightclubs that close between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. have come under the spotlight. Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) has advocated for revoking the city’s 5 a.m. late-night licenses, while business leaders have said that the bars are not the issue.

While crime has fallen citywide in 2022, shootings in the 18th police district, which includes parts of the Near North Side, are up 82 percent from the same time last year, according to police data. The district has seen 31 shootings in 2022. It had 17 during the same period in 2021. 

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