Chicago police seek person of interest in shooting of 7-year-old trick-or-treater

The girl, who was not the intended victim, was critically injured "because a group of guys wanted to shoot another male,” police said.

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By Phil Helsel and Elisha Fieldstadt

Police in Chicago have identified a person of interest in a Thursday evening shooting that left a 7-year-old trick-or-treater dressed as a bumblebee in critical condition.

The gunman was not targeting the little girl, who was hit while collecting candy in the Little Village neighborhood on Chicago’s west side, according to officials.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Friday that with help from the community police have identified a person of interest and believe others were involved in the shooting. He said "people were stopping by the 10th district all night" with tips, and encouraged more as police search for a gunman.

A gun was recovered and investigators were testing the firearm that might be connected to the shooting, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.

A 31-year-old man was also hit during the shooting, which happened at about 5:30 p.m. He and the 7-year-old were on 26th Street when the gunman, who was with two other males, opened fire. There is no relationship between the victims.

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The man was hit in the left hand and the girl was hit in the lower neck, police said.

"The shooting yesterday was reprehensible," Johnson said Friday. "Those involved don't deserve to be in our city. I'm disgusted but committed to doing everything we can to find the cowards that would engage in a gun battle in the early evening hours while our children were trick-or-treating."

"That little girl clings to life this morning," he said, adding that she was in critical but stable condition.

"This is unacceptable," Chicago police spokesman Rocco Alioto said. “This was a 7-year-old girl that was trick-or-treating and happened to be shot because a group of guys wanted to shoot another male with a street full of kids trick-or-treating."

NBC Chicago reported the girl was wearing a bumblebee costume when she was shot.

In video posted by NBC Chicago, people are seen running before seven shots are heard, and then people are seen running from the area, at least one of whom was in a Halloween-style mask.

Chicago has struggled with gun violence. In June, 52 people were shot and 10 people were killed in a single weekend.

Police say violence is decreasing in the city though. Chicago saw the lowest number of shootings and murders last month than any October since 2015, the department announced Friday. The number of murders has fallen 20 percent compared with last October.

In December, the city released crime statistics showing that there were fewer murders in 2018 than in 2017, which marked the second year of declining homicides after a surge of violent crime in 2016.

"But none of that matters if parents that live in certain communities can't even take their children out on Halloween," Johnson said Friday.