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Man gunned down where peace march had begun hours earlier near Chicago church

Alice Yin, Chicago Tribune on

Published in News & Features

CHICAGO -- Under the gray cross of Chicago's St. Sabina Church, the Rev. Michael Pfleger and others gathered with blue plastic candles Wednesday night to remember the hundreds of people killed by gun violence last year.

Later that same evening, Pfleger returned to find a homicide scene where his "Walk for Peace," held on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, had started.

"This violence is just -- it's become the norm," Pfleger said. "It just makes me angry and it breaks my heart."

A 23-year-old man was shot in the chest around 11:40 p.m. in the 1200 block of West 78th Place in the Gresham neighborhood, Chicago police said. He was brought to University of Chicago Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. His identity has not been released, and no one was in custody.

A man who said he's a member of the church's congregation said the 23-year-old ran to his car for safety. "I had just started my car up," said the man, who declined to be identified. "Before you know it, he came running and hopped in the car, saying he was shot, he was shot."

The man, who had been about to pick up his son, said he sped toward a police station and then saw a squad car at West 78th Street and South Racine Avenue and waved the officers down.

After the 23-year-old was placed into an ambulance, the man's silver sedan remained in a wedge-shaped crime scene in front of a CTA bus stop. The car would stay there for hours. "I got to get to work in the morning," he said, sounding harried.

 

The man stood across the street from where his car was surrounded by red crime tape, discussing the events of the night with Pfleger and another neighbor, who said he had heard gunshots too. Eventually, the man walked off with a sergeant south on Racine.

"We need a car to take a witness to Area," an officer radioed in shortly afterward, referring to the Area South detective division.

Pfleger, after checking in with the man, left the scene around midnight. "It's crazy," he said. "We have a love affair with guns in America."

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