Two teens shot to death blocks apart on West Side

Two teens — a 19-year-old woman and a 14-year-old boy — were shot to death just blocks apart in the West Side Austin neighborhood late Tuesday and early Wednesday morning.

Gunfire first rang out in the 4800 block of West Potomac Avenue about 9:40 p.m., killing a 19-year-old woman, identified as Ashley Hardmon, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

Several shooters approached a crowd gathered outside a home and opened fire, striking Hardmon in the head, police said. She was taken to John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County, where she died at 10:14 p.m., the medical examiner’s office said.

Neighbors said the 19-year-old recently returned home after training as a pharmacy worker with Job Corps. She was described as a “tomboy” who was nice but quiet by a neighbor.

At the time, several kids were playing in the block, said a neighbor named Bernice, who declined to give more than her first name. “Thank God one of the kids didn’t get shot,” she said.

She said there are escalating tensions between two rival groups in the area.

A woman who identified herself as the deceased’s mother declined to comment, only saying, “It’s just got to stop. It’s just got to stop.”

While police were still gathering evidence, shots rang out several blocks to the northwest about 12:46 a.m.
Outside Banner Academy West High School, a young man lie dead beside a bicycle in the 5000 block of West North Avenue. The 14-year-old victim, Damani Henard, was shot multiple times, according to the medical examiner’s office.

Police could not say if the two shootings were related. Few came forward as detectives asked a gathering crowd for witnesses early Wednesday.

Both murders remain under investigation.

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