Curtis Clayton and Krystal Falkner don’t feel safe in Old Town.
Their Marshall Field Garden apartment faces North Hudson Avenue, but they say gangbanging and drugs keep them and their two school-age children from using the street to enter their home.
They go around to the other side, to Sedgwick Street. “That’s our safety, the Sedgwick side,” Falkner said.
It’s the street their son and daughter cross to get snacks from the convenience store and where other residents of the Near North Side neighborhood walk their dogs and push their little ones in strollers.
Tuesday afternoon, their 12-year-old son Adrian was on the street waiting for the store to open when a car drove past and shots were fired. Clayton and Falkner were told their son was hit in the chest after some older boys used him and his friends as shields.
“It’s sad that now I’m gonna have to coach my baby back to himself, coach him to go places,” Falkner said. “They should be allowed just to go across the street to the store … without stuff like this happening.”
Adrian, a Chicago Public Schools student, is on spring break from school this week. He left the apartment around 1 p.m. Tuesday to play in the outdoor facility at the Marshall Field Garden complex, according to Clayton, his father.
The boys were outside of the convenience store in the 1400 block of North Sedgwick Street when the shooting happened around 2:30 p.m.
Adrian told his father he was sitting on the steps of the store waiting for the employees to reopen after a prayer session when someone in a gray car pulled up and fired toward them.
Some other boys ducked behind cars, while another ran behind the younger kids. Adrian was shot in the chest and his friend, who’s also 12, was shot in the leg. A 66-year-old man was shot in the hand, police said.
A security officer who works in the Marshall Field Garden Apartments said he saw the boys leave the building. Later he heard about 15 shots before he came outside to see a gray Dodge Charger speed away north on Sedgwick Street.
The 66-year-old victim is a head maintenance man at Field Garden Apartments and was near the store where several other children were hanging out when the shooting happened, according to the security officer.
“It’s terrible. It’s terrible that they have to be subjected to it. They just kids. This is crazy,” the officer said.
After the shooting, Clayton said the boys ran inside the apartment complex.
“I ran down there. He was just in shock,” Clayton said. “He say he didn’t know he was shot until he got into the (complex).”
The kids were taken to Lurie Children’s Hospital, where their conditions had stabilized, and the man was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. His condition also had stabilized, according to police.
Adrian was shot in the right side of his chest and the bullet exited the lower part of his chest, Clayton said. While there’s some fluid on his lung, he doesn’t need surgery.
His parents said he’s doing better and has been video-chatting from his hospital bed with his friend who was shot.
“My son is a superhero,” Falkner said. “He got angels watching him. He’s strong, a strong young man I raised him to be, I raised my baby to be.”
Adrian loves sports. “You name it, he can play it,” Falkner said. He plays football for the Park District and gets MVP each year, Clayton said.
But since the shooting, he’s not sure if he’s going to let his son play on the team.
“The building we stay in, they gangbang so much,” Clayton said. “It’s messed up. … I don’t feel safe.”
Falkner said her kids participate in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, but the neighborhood doesn’t have enough programs to keep kids off the streets, she said.
“Everything’s closed up … that we can put our kids in to save their lives,” she said. “(The police) know they need to be out here for these kids safety because summer break is coming up next.”
Clayton said his son is not caught up in gangs, but he blames the lack of neighborhood programs for gang activity.
“The youth don’t have nothing. That’s why, as they get older, the gangs attract them,” Clayton said. “When it all boils down, the city ain’t ever got no money when it come down to the youth, and that’s messed up.”
Falkner and Clayton talk to Adrian and his 13-year-old sister about violence in the neighborhood. “Be careful. You hear shots, get down,” Falkner said she tells them. “Don’t stand and look, just duck. If you hear any type of big boom get down cuz you not safe nowhere no more.”
Adrian’s sister takes the CTA to school. “Now I’m gonna have to tell her to run to the train. Don’t walk, run,” she said.
Falkner said it’s a miracle her son is alive, but she’s afraid for summer.
“My kid, that’s my lifeline. I got one son and one daughter. I will not bury my child. They will bury me. I am not going to bury my boy,” Falkner said. “Something got to give in Chicago. Something have to give.”
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