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Chicago Sun-Times

‘I’m so devastated about this,’ says mother of girls who were playing near open hydrant when teen killed, 4 others wounded in Back of the Yards

Three girls were playing near an open fire hydrant Tuesday afternoon when gunfire erupted just half a block away in Back of the Yards on the South Side.

“I saw one person hit the floor immediately, and then a couple more started scattering and running toward where we were,” said the girls’ mother, 28, who lives in the 4800 block of South Ada Street where the shooting occurred around 4:30 p.m.

None of her daughters were hurt but five teens were hit by the gunfire, including 19-year-old Eduardo Jimenez, who was shot in the head and died. He lived a few blocks away on Wood Street.

The attack was the first of two mass shootings that occurred five hours apart on the South Side. The second occurred about five miles away in Jackson Park and wounded six people. By day’s end, at least 21 people were shot across Chicago.

In the Back of the Yards shooting, police blamed a conflict between two rival gangs that has been simmering for more than a month. The teens were were standing outside when gunmen approached in a stolen red Mazda and opened fire.

The 19-year-old was pronounced dead at Mount Sinai Hospital; a 16-year-old boy was shot in the left shoulder, arm, face and ankle and was taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center in critical condition; an 18-year-old man was shot in the right hip and left knee and taken to Mount Sinai in critical condition; another 18-year-old man was shot in the right leg and taken to the University of Chicago in good condition; a second 16-year-old boy was grazed in the right ankle but refused medical attention.

The gunmen crashed a few blocks away in the 4500 block of South Marshfield Avenue, Chicago Police Cmdr. Don Jerome told reporters Tuesday evening. A SWAT team was called to help search for suspects and three weapons were recovered, two rifles and a handgun.

Chicago’s top cop blamed the shooting on a convicted felon who was recently arrested on gun charges but was released on cash bond despite his violent record.

Police Supt. David Brown told reporters Wednesday that Sergio Barron, 28, is behind much of the recent gang violence in the South Side neighborhood, where homicides are up 100% from a year ago and shootings are up 48%.

“He’s driving the retaliatory violence,” Brown said.

Barron was released recently after serving eight years on gun charges and assaulting police. He was soon arrested again, in March, and charged with unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon. He was released from Cook County Jail the next day when his cousin put up $10,000.

As he has often done in the past, Brown called on judges to be tougher on gun cases that involve people with a record of violent crime. “There needs to be a better risk assessment by judges,” he said. “The police did their job. That felon got a cash bond.”

Brown did not say exactly what role Barron is suspected of playing in the Back of the Yards shooting.

The superintendent said responding officers were attacked by gang members at the scene, disputing reports that onlookers were angry at police for not administering life-saving measures to the victims.

“Gang members began assaulting police officers,” Brown said, adding that two of the officers were “battered.” 

Two gang members were arrested, a 20-year-old man charged with assaulting an officer and resisting arrest and a 42-year-old man charged with resisting arrest.

But the mother of the girls, who did not want to be identified, said the fight broke out because officers were “standing around, talking and laughing.”

“They weren’t trying to do compressions or CPR on the kids that were shot,” she told the Sun-Times. “That’s when the people of the community started getting reckless.”

The mother said she’s known the 16-year-old boy hospitalized at the University of Chicago for five years.

“He has been involved in some unfortunate circumstances, but he helped move in my furniture, played with my kids and bought them water balloons,” she said. “He’s a really sweet kid, that’s why I’m so devastated about this.”

Contributing: Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere