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Parents rattled, call for safety measures after 23 gunshots ring out near high school freshman baseball game

<i>WBBM</i><br/>Sophia Roy and Sorin Olinger
Sophia Roy and Sorin Olinger

By Megan Hickey

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    CHICAGO (WBBM) — Parents on Friday described a terrifying experience as 23 gunshots rang out near two high school baseball games and a track meet on Chicago’s Southwest Side the evening before.

As CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reported, no one was injured when the shots were fired steps from the baseball field from St. Rita of Cascia High School on South Western Avenue. But at least six cars were hit by bullets, and the incident has left m any players and their families rattled.

Some parents are asking for safety measures to be put in place.

It was 5:15 p.m. Thursday, and the freshman and varsity games were under way. Video from the dugout of the freshman baseball game between the St. Rita Freshman Mustangs and Marmion Academy shows everyone’s delayed reaction.

“Very unsettling – very unsettling for the lack of respect for human life; the value of human life,” said the mom of one varsity player who was on the field.

Players dropped to the ground as soon as they recognized what they were hearing.

Hickey spoke with several parents about their terrifying experience watching from the stands Thursday night. Most did not want to be identified because of safety concerns.

“It took a minute, I think, for me to even process what was going on,” the player’s mom said. “I’ve never experienced violent gunfire. The boys on the field hit the ground.”

At the same time the shots were fired, St. Rita grandparent Sabrina Johnson says her grandkids were across the street.

“All of a sudden, they saw this car pull up and they started shooting toward McDonald’s, so they got to ducking and everything like that,” Johnson said. “So it was really terrifying.”

St. Rita is located at 7740 S. Western Ave. The gunfire rang out at the McDonald’s drive-thru steps away at 7832 S. Western Ave.

Some parents said they’ve had long-existing safety concerns with that McDonald’s in particular. They are advocating for a barrier of some sort between the McDonald’s parking lot and the St. Rita’s baseball field right behind it.

“It just can’t be: ‘OK, well, nobody was hurt or killed. We just go on and pick up where we left off,'” the player’s mother said. “It needs to be addressed.”

We reached out to McDonald’s about their request. McDonald’s franchise owner-operator Vincent Hale issued this statement:

“We are deeply upset by this incident that took place in our parking lot and are thankful there were no injuries. We are happy to discuss ways we can work together with St. Rita’s on the safety surrounding our restaurant and their school.”

St. Rita declined our request for an on-camera interview, but did send us a statement from Interim President Deacon John Donahue, saying:

“Yesterday’s incident in our neighborhood was disturbing and a sad reminder that violence can occur anywhere at any time. We thank our security staff and law enforcement for their quick response. We remain fully committed to the safety of our students, faculty, staff, parents, and guests.”

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