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Violence 'needs to stop,' pleads grandma of 3-year-old shot in Chicago

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The grandmother of a 3-year-old who was among 13 people injured in a shooting Thursday night in Chicago made a tearful plea Friday for an end to gun violence in her city.

"It needs to stop. It needs to stop," Semehca Nunn told reporters the day after a gunman with an assault-style rifle opened fire at a basketball court on Chicago's South Side.

"Y'all out here killing these innocent people, kids, parents, grandmothers, mothers, fathers — it's got to stop."

Three-year-old Deonta "Tay-man" Howard was in serious condition but was reported stable after having been shot in the ear.

"He had an entry wound and an exit wound in his jaw. He's heavily sedated and resting" after surgery, said the family's pastor, Corey Brooks of Chicago's New Beginnings Church.

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel — who cut short a visit to Washington to return to his bullet-scarred city, which was the nation's murder capital in 2012 — visited the hospital Friday afternoon.

Later, Emanuel spoke at a church gathering and urged the community to come together to crush gun violence. 

"For a city to have a sense of civility, a sense of community, it must live by a moral code, not a code of silence," the mayor said, adding: "Assault weapons do not belong in our parks, they do not belong on our streets."

Emanuel continued: "Last night is a reality of Chicago. And last night is too frequent and too familiar for some children in Chicago. That has to come to an end."

In Washington, a White house spokeswoman said President Barack Obama was "dismayed to learn of yet another deplorable act of gun violence, this time in his hometown of Chicago."

"The president remains committed to pushing Congress to pass common-sense measures and is doing everything in his executive power to reduce gun violence," she said.

Deonta was shot while his family was still reeling from another gun-related tragedy.

The boy's uncle, Jerome Wood, 21, was shot and killed Sept. 2 in what "was believed to be a retaliation shooting," Brooks said. He was one of eight people who were killed and 20 others who were injured during the Labor Day weekend in Chicago.

"I just buried my son, and now I'm going through something else," Nunn said. "[God does] not send me through nothing he don't want me to go through."

The family doesn't believe there is a connection between Wood's death and Thursday night's shooting.

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"It's very hurtful. They're really traumatized," Brooks said.

Chicago's top police officer said it was a "miracle" no one was killed Thursday night.

"A military-grade weapon on the streets of Chicago is simply unacceptable," a visibly frustrated Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy said at a news conference. "We should not accept assault-style weapons in our communities."

Read more about the shooting from NBCChicago.com

Sixteen rounds were fired, McCarthy said.

At least 11 other people were shot across the city — five of them fatally — bringing the total number of people to have been shot since Thursday to 24, police said Friday. One of those killed was a teenager who was shot Friday, NBC Chicago reported.

Chicago had more than 500 homicides in 2012, according to FBI data, more than any other U.S. city. Chicago's total exceeded that of New York City, which recorded 419, and Los Angeles, which saw 299. Both cities have much bigger populations than Chicago.

The shooting occurred in Cornell Square Park in the Back of the Yards neighborhood in Chicago, police spokesman Ron Gaines said.

The others wounded ranged in age from 15 to 41. Their injuries included gunshot wounds to the stomach, arm, leg, knee, wrists and buttocks, and their conditions ranged from serious to good early Friday, according to police.

"It's a miracle in this instance that there have been no fatalities based upon the lethality of the weaponry used at the scene," McCarthy said.

"What is needed in Chicago and in cities across this country is real action on reasonable gun laws on the state and federal level."

Detectives were interviewing witnesses and believe the shooting was gang-related. One to three suspects are believed to be at large, McCarthy said.

Chicago's police department has touted gains in the city against violence. The department has said its anti-gang program, narcotics initiatives and community policing have resulted in fewer shootings and murders. McCarthy said homicides were down 23 percent this year over the same time last year.

Becky Bratu and M. Alex Johnson of NBC News contributed to this report.

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