By RACHEL HINTON and LUKE WILUSZ
The latest mass shooting in the city happened late Tuesday in Bronzeville just two blocks or so from what one would think to be a safe zone: the Chicago Police Department headquarters at 3510 S. Michigan Ave.
Alfred Mitchell Jr. and others were outside barbecuing shortly after 10:30 p.m. They were standing on the sidewalk when a group of men walked up and fired shots from the corner of East 37th Place near South Michigan Avenue, Chicago Police said.
The 28-year-old Mitchell, known as AJ, was shot in the back, and was pronounced dead at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office said.
Six others, ranging in age from 21 to 46, were wounded.
A 21-year-old woman shot in the left knee, a 28-year-old woman shot in the left leg and a 45-year-old woman shot in the right buttock were all taken to Stroger Hospital, police said. A 46-year-old woman shot in the right leg and a 27-year-old woman shot in the left leg were taken to Mercy Hospital. The seventh victim, a 30-year-old man, suffered gunshot wounds to the right leg and later showed up at Northwestern Memorial, police said. All were expected to survive.
“People were just outside kicking it,” said Mitchell’s cousin, who asked to remain anonymous. “He was just out here barbecuing when it happened.”
The cousin described Mitchell as a “cool” person who shielded children attending the barbecue from the hail of bullets.
“If there’s one thing I want people to know about him, it’s that he died protecting the kids,” Mitchell’s cousin said. “There were a lot of kids out there and he died protecting them.”
Mitchell lived in the Fuller Park neighborhood on the South Side.
The block where Mitchell died Tuesday is usually quiet, neighbors said. That’s why Marvin Edmond, who lives nearby South Wabash Avenue, was surprised to hear what he said were 15 shots.
“When I went out there, I saw a lady on the sidewalk and others in the yard,” Edmond said. “It’s usually pretty quiet around here and that’s why it surprised me. Everybody knows everybody.”
Floyd Atkins, who grew up in the neighborhood, said he’s praying for Mitchell’s family.
“I grew up in the neighborhood, and I’ve seen it go through a lot of changes,” said Atkins, 60. “We’ve got to get a handle on the guns. We’ve got to cut down.”
Area Central detectives are still investigating the shooting and have two potential leads, but no one is in custody, said Brandi Wright, a police spokeswoman.
Police are looking into whether a 20-year-old man at the barbecue, who has a history with police and was wounded in a 2011 shooting, was the intended target, Wright said.
Investigators are also trying to determine whether an earlier verbal dispute in a nearby park led to the shooting.