11 People Shot in Connection with Funeral Mass Shooting

(Sun Times Wire) A Chicago police official said Thursday it’s “very probable” that two South Side shootings that claimed multiple victims each this week are related.

On Monday, six people were wounded when mourners attending a funeral for a local rapper were fired upon about 12:30 p.m. outside of Bethlehem Star Missionary Baptist Church, 9231 S. Cottage Grove. Then on Wednesday night, five men were wounded when several gunmen approached the group about 9 p.m. in the 6200 block of South King Drive and opened fire.

“I’d say that it’s very probable that the shootings are related,” Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Thursday evening.

A police source said the shootings were the latest in a series of retaliatory street gang attacks between dueling factions of the Gangster Disciples and the Black Disciples.

It’s an ongoing dispute that has simmered for several years along the stretch of King Drive south of 63rd Street known as “O Block,” which includes the Parkway Gardens housing complex and sees one of the highest concentrations of shootings of any area in Chicago.

Pastor Corey Brooks of New Beginnings Church led an anti-violence rally Thursday night under the Cottage Grove Green Line station, steps away from the scene where the five people were wounded.

Brooks said he’s talked to one of the victims from Wednesday’s shooting and relatives of a person shot Monday.

“At the end of the day, we have to learn how to put aside differences and move forward. The retaliation, for the retaliation, for the retaliation, is never going to solve anything. It’s not going to bring your family member back,” Brooks said.

The rally drew more than 100 residents and activists, including the Rev. Michael Pfleger and Gov. Bruce Rauner, who spoke briefly after meeting with community organizers for about 40 minutes to discuss “this senseless violence.”

“It’s a step,” Rauner said of their meeting. “It’s going to take several steps. We’ve got to take action, and it’s going to take us listening to you and doing this together.”
Woodlawn resident Kelli Cole said she had seen rallies like Thursday’s before, but was encouraged by the turnout.

“People are tired of this suffering every day,” Cole said. “People want things to change.”

Earlier in the day, commanders and detectives from the Area Central and Area South police areas gathered to discuss how to investigate the two shootings — and to strategize how to de-escalate potential conflicts that could lead to more bloodshed.

“We’re really trying to use data and technology to get ahead of any future retaliation,” Guglielmi said of the meeting. Information shared at the meeting will help the department strategically deploy officers, he said.

Following Monday afternoon’s attack, investigators began seeing messages on social media that indicated there would be retaliation, Guglielmi said. With that in mind, police called together church leaders in the area and funeral home directors to discuss how they might better communicate with each other and police to prevent future violence.

“We pulled together all the religious leaders the other night to try and figure out how to deescalate the conflict,” Guglielmi said. “Every victim is someone’s brother, sister, father, mother. They deserve the opportunity to be memorialized in peace.”

Chicago police routinely have officers attend “high profile” funerals for local rappers and gang members in order to prevent conflicts, Guglielmi said.

A Gresham District officer had been stationed at the funeral for 25-year-old Chicago rapper, Vantrease R. Criss, Guglielmi said.

Criss, who performed under the name “Dooski Tha Man,” was shot and killed earlier this month in the Washington Park neighborhood on the South Side, authorities said.

Unfortunately, the officer was called away from the funeral when he had to respond to an emergency call from a security guard who reported he was being shot at, Guglielmi said.

Article Org: Chicago.suntimes.com

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