Monday, April 15, 2024

This is so nuts....A family gathering attacked with rifles and handguns............the culprits must be hunted down

9-year-old girl killed in Back of the Yards mass attack was ‘the princess of the family’
Ariana Molina was with family celebrating a confirmation Saturday night when shots were fired. Ten people, including Ariana’s mother, were wounded. Police blame gangs for the shooting.
By Kaitlin Washburn and Matthew Hendrickson
Apr 14, 2024, 7:13pm CDT

Family members console one another Sunday near the scene of Saturday’s mass shooting.

Saturday should have been a joyous one for Alejandra Velasquez and her family. They started their afternoon in church for a relative's confirmation and later gathered to celebrate outside her in-laws' Back of the Yards home.

But just before they cut the cake, gunfire erupted, killing a 9-year-old girl and wounding three boys and seven adults.

"It just came out of nowhere," Velasquez said. She dropped to the ground when she heard the shots. Blood was everywhere, parents cried out for their children, car windows shattered, the cake flew.

Ariana Molina, Velasquez's niece and goddaughter, was killed. Velasquez was standing in front of Ariana when she was shot in the head.

"It's hard to see her a few minutes before playing with my son. And then to see her on the floor not responding," Velasquez said Sunday afternoon, standing across the street from where the shooting happened.

Relatives were still gathered together on the block Sunday, sitting in stunned silence and sobbing and holding each other. Many of the family live on the street, including Velasquez, Ariana's family and both of Ariana's grandmothers.

A banner with balloons reading "God bless" in gold lettering was hung on one of the houses. A small memorial with a cross and pink balloons and votive candles honored Ariana and the others on the sidewalk.

"The people who did this did not have a heart, they hurt innocent people," Ariana's grandmother said in Spanish between sobs.

A mourner places a candle on a memorial in the 2000 block of West 52nd Street, where a 9-year-old girl was killed and 10 people wounded in a shooting Saturday night during a confirmation celebration.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Officers responded to a ShotSpotter alert that picked up 18 shots fired about 9:30 p.m. in the 2000 block of West 52nd Street. Police say the shooters used assault rifles and handguns and left 75 shell casings behind.

Two brothers, ages 1 and 8, were also shot several times in the abdomen and hospitalized in critical condition, according to Velasquez and Chicago police. A 9-year-old boy suffered a graze wound on his hand and was listed in good condition.

The seven wounded adults ranged in age from 19 to 40, according to police. Ariana's mom was shot in the shoulder and remains hospitalized, Velasquez said. A 36-year-old man suffered gunshot wounds to the arms and back and was in critical condition. The other adults wounded were listed in good condition.

All the victims were related, Velasquez said.

Police say the shooting was likely the result of gang violence. Officers responded to a ShotSpotter alert that picked up 18 shots fired about 9:30 p.m. in the 2000 block of West 52nd Street, Area 1 Deputy Chief Don Jerome said Saturday night.

The shooters opened fire on the family with assault rifles and handguns, and 75 shell casings were recovered, according to a police report. The first officers at the scene performed life-saving measures, applying tourniquets and chest seal bandages.

"This was not a random act of violence, it was likely gang-related," Jerome said. "Regardless of the motivation for this incident ... innocent children were struck tonight and one of them tragically succumbed to her wounds. The offenders' actions, make no mistake, are horrific and unacceptable in our city."

Over the past two years, Velasquez said the violence in and around their block has gotten worse.

"I don't understand it, if it was a rival between two gangs, who would [shoot] when there's a family there? I feel like they just shot out of nowhere," Velasquez said. "I know it's not just here, it's all over the city. But this has to stop. There are a lot children on this block."

Ariana, the only girl of the kid cousins, was always smiling, Velasquez said. She loved dresses and all-things girly. She recently dyed her hair to match the Little Mermaid's fiery red hair.

"She was so sweet and loving," Velasquez said. "She was the princess of the family."

"Mi muñeca," her grandmother sobbed over and over, meaning "My doll" in Spanish.

Ariana Molina, 9, was shot and killed Saturday night at a family gathering in Back of the Yards. Her mother was wounded in the attack. Three other children and six adults were also wounded. Many relatives lived on the block, her godmother said.

Mayor Brandon Johnson mourned Ariana and prayed for the others' recovery in a statement Sunday.

"This heinous and cowardly act of wanton violence that leaves our city mourning children is beyond reprehensible and has no place in our communities," Johnson said. "We are all allowed to be outraged today — a warm, spring day that I am sure this child would have been enjoying with family. I am praying for her loved ones and her community as they experience the unimaginable pain of losing a child."

In a statement Sunday morning, Ald. Stephanie Coleman (16th) said she was confident police "will work tirelessly to apprehend the person or persons responsible for this cowardly crime."

"The Back of the Yards community is united in our grief, prayers, and collective mindset that we must continue to stand firm against these senseless acts of physical force," Coleman wrote. "I want to send my heartfelt condolences to the family of this precious jewel and my prayers to every person injured."

At least 120 children younger than age 16 have been shot to death in Chicago since 2018, according to data kept by the Sun-Times. In more than half the cases — 85 — no arrests have been made.

Also Saturday night, about half an hour after the mass shooting in Back of the Yards, a 9-year-old boy was wounded in another shooting several miles away in the North Lawndale neighborhood.

Police said the boy was on a sidewalk about 10 p.m. in the 1500 block of South Sawyer Avenue when someone fired shots in the area and he was struck. He was taken to Stroger Hospital in good condition.

Contributing: Sophie Sherry


  1. Anonymous4/15/2024

    Cartel/gang related

  2. Anonymous4/15/2024

    All due to democrat policies and "leadership"