She’s a fan of TikTok. She loves to dance. She is shy and petite and her 15th birthday is coming up next week, according to relatives.
“She” is the 14-year-old girl who was shot outside Phillips Academy High School on Tuesday. The girl’s grandmother, Johneece Cobb, said the family is not comfortable releasing the teen’s name because she is a juvenile.
Wednesday morning as the high school freshman was in an intensive care unit, recovering from two gunshot wounds, her family and about 25 others gathered in front of St. Sabina Church on the South Side to hear an update on the teen’s recovery.
“She made it through surgery last night,” Cobb said. “She’s stabilized, she’s going to make a full recovery and there was no severe damage to her organs.”
The news conference was held as a police report surfaced revealing the girl’s mother, who had been planning to pick up her daughter, had arrived outside the school before the last bell and in time to see the shooting unfold.
The girl’s mother told police that she saw a man get out of a small silver sedan, walk up to the doors of the high school, at 244 E. Pershing Road in the Bronzeville neighborhood, and fire shots at her daughter and a man in his 40s around 3:30 p.m., the report said.
ShotSpotter — the city’s gunshot detection system — picked up eight gunshots in the area, and police responded to calls of a shooting at the school, the report said. Eight .45-caliber shell casings and one expended bullet were found at the scene.
The man who fired the shots got back in the sedan and fled north, the report said.
The woman told police that the man was wearing a mask and a white and black camouflaged hoodie, and he looked to be in his 20s and not a student, the report said.
The girl was shot in the left armpit, the left side of her back and her pelvis, the report said. She was taken to Comer Children’s Hospital in critical condition, police said.
Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said Tuesday that the shooting happened just after the security guard, a 46-year-old man, opened the doors in the back entrance near Pershing Road and Giles Avenue.
The guard was shot in the right elbow, left arm and his back and he was in fair condition at the University of Chicago Medical Center, police and the report said.
The guard was standing 10 feet from the door when the shooting took place, Deenihan said.
Outside St. Sabina Wednesday, the 14-year-old spoke to her grandmother on FaceTime from her hospital bed with a message she wanted to share.
“Please tell everybody I said thank you,” she said. “I can feel the prayers.”
Cobb said the color in her granddaughter’s face had been coming back and Cobb was optimistic about the progress she’s made thus far.
She’s hopeful the person who shot her comes forward, but she also has compassion.
“I believe the person who shot my grandbaby is hurting,” Cobb said. She added: “Please, know that we are praying for you too.”
Cobb lost her nephew Edwin Cobb in 2015 to gun violence. Since then, she has joined a support group called Purpose Over Pain for parents and family members who lost loved ones to gun violence. Tuesday, before she learned the news of her granddaughter, she went to visit his gravesite.
She said Edwin Cobb and her granddaughter were close and he was an active participant in anti-violence marches.
No one was in custody and an investigation remains ongoing, Deenihan said. A motive was unknown, he said.
Around 8:40 a.m. Wednesday, shots were fired near McDade Elementary Classical School, located at 8801 S. Indiana Ave., hitting a window, police said.
A male was standing outside when a sedan drove past him and someone inside starting firing shots, police said. He was not hit.
No arrests have been made, police said.
The Chicago Teachers Union wrote in a post on Twitter that they are “praying for safety” after learning the elementary school building was hit.
More gunfire at a CPS school. This morning, bullets hit McDade Elementary in Chatham. We are gathering more info. Praying for safety. https://t.co/8urOO5Uh0a— ChicagoTeachersUnion (@CTULocal1) October 13, 2021
Lamar Johnson, who leads a program called The Brave Youth Leaders at St. Sabina Church, also addressed the crowd Wednesday morning. He said he has received multiple calls from parents, principals and counselors who are concerned about the safety of their students.
“The fact that this keeps happening in our inner cities to our Black and brown teens that’s living in trauma every single day needs to be declared a state of emergency,” Johnson said.
He said he started a petition for Gov. J.B. Pritzker to declare a state of emergency in response to the ongoing gun violence; people can text “Chicago SOS” to sign.
The Rev. Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Church hugged and consoled the weeping grandmother. He is asking for politicians to be more proactive.
“We want a plan and a strategy that says when are we going to stop the violence,” Pfleger said. “Money is money but lives are lives.”
Many of Chicago’s 600-plus public schools have at least one security guard. More than three dozen high schools have at least one school resource officer, which is a uniformed, armed Chicago police officer.
Phillips was one of 17 schools that exited the school resource officer program in the summer of 2020 amid a nationwide racial reckoning following the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd. Community activists say the school police program increases the school-to-prison pipeline and disproportionately affects Black and brown students.
High schools participating in the program last year were allowed to decide to keep or remove their two resource officers. It’s unclear how Phillips adjusted its security plans after withdrawing from the program.
The 50-plus schools that chose to keep school police were tasked with creating a safety plan and exploring alternatives to school resource officers. Schools this year were permitted to axe just one officer, or they could keep or remove them both. As of late last month, 20 schools had voted this year to keep both officers; 23 schools chose to remove one; and 10 schools opted to nix both. Schools are allowed to re-evaluate their decisions about the program at any time, but they cannot add officers back.
Schools that voted to remove one or both officers were given at least $65,000 per officer position to invest elsewhere, such as hiring a restorative justice coordinator. Last month, the Chicago Board of Education approved a one-year agreement with the Chicago Police Department for the officer program that is not supposed to exceed $11.06 million.
Records show that the security guard who was shot Tuesday is earning an annual salary of $38,273.