Brother of woman wounded at White Sox game describes ‘pop’ of gunfire
Chicago police SWAT officers stand outside Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday after shots were fired during the Chicago White Sox game against the Oakland A’s.
Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times
The Gage Park man was chatting with his sister at the White Sox game Friday night when he said they heard a loud pop.
He described the noise as similar to the sound an empty plastic water bottle makes when you squeeze it. They didn’t think anything of the odd noise, until his sister said she felt like she got “hit with a ball” in her abdomen.
“I told my sister, just check yourself, if you feel like you got hit with a ball just check yourself real quick,” the man from the Southwest Side neighborhood told the Sun-Times.
Sure enough, his sister found a small abrasion on her lower abdomen, “like when you scrape yourself on something, and she was bleeding a little bit,” he said.
As the two looked around, they noticed a crowd surrounding another woman who was sitting a few rows behind them.
“There was blood on the floor, and we were like, ‘Oh s—-, what the f—- happened?’” the man said. That’s when they realized that the other woman had been shot in the leg.
The brother said he and his sister, 26, have no idea who fired the weapon, or what caused the shooting. Law enforcement sources said police are investigating whether that other woman, 42, entered the ballpark with a firearm.
A lawyer for the woman, a resident of far southwest suburban Montgomery, issued a statement late Tuesday, saying she “denies bringing a firearm into the stadium” or “having anything to do with” the shooting.
Chicago police have said little about the shooting, but a report by responding officers says at least two shots were fired.
The 42-year-old woman suffered two gunshot wounds to her right leg, according to previously undisclosed details from the report. One of the bullets traveled through her thigh, and the other struck her calf and became lodged in her shin.
The Gage Park man said his sister was examined by staff at the park and given a bandage for her graze wound from a small first aid kit. “She’s getting better,” he said.
According to the police report, a bullet was found in the hoodie of a third woman, a co-worker of the younger woman. Both are Chicago public school teachers.
“I felt a pinch in my back ... sure enough I picked up a damn bullet,” the woman with the hoodie said in a Facebook post that has since been deleted. “Still in shock ... but I am fine.”
It was not known if the bullet that passed through the older woman’s thigh was the same one that grazed the younger woman’s abdomen or was the one found in the hoodie.
The man’s sister, who lives in the Southwest Side McKinley Park neighborhood, declined to speak with a reporter. The Sun-Times is not naming the two injured women because they are listed as victims in the police report.
The shooting happened about 7:30 p.m. during a game against the Oakland A’s. Responding officers said they found the victims in Section 161.
The older woman was taken to University of Chicago Medical Center, where she told officers she “heard a loud popping noise.” She stood up and “she observed blood coming out of her right leg,” the report states.
The responding officers said they learned “upon further investigation” that the woman has a valid firearm owner’s identification card. It was not clear how or why the officers found that out. There is no mention in the report of a gun being recovered.
None of the victims and witnesses mentioned in the police report could provide police with a description of the shooter. The Sun-Times reached out to them, but most did not return calls or declined to be interviewed.
Interim Chicago Police Supt. Fred Waller said Monday that investigators have “almost completely dispelled” a theory that the shots were fired from outside the stadium. Waller did not say how someone apparently got a gun into the stadium, where bags are searched and fans walk through metal detectors.
A lawyer for the 42-year-old woman said the “White Sox season ticket holder” did not bring the gun into the stadium and knew nothing about who fired the shots.
“Our client underwent emergency medical treatment for a gunshot wound she received while attending a baseball game,” lawyer John Malm said in a statement issued Tuesday. “She denies bringing a firearm into the stadium and further denies having anything to do with the discharge of a firearm at the stadium.
“We have reviewed photographic evidence and X-rays of our client’s injuries with firearms and medical experts who confirm the gunshot wound our client sustained was not self-inflicted and was not the result of her accidentally discharging a firearm. We will continue investigating this matter further to pursue justice on behalf of our client who sustained serious personal injuries as a result of this shooting.”
As police responded to the shooting, Chief of Patrol Brian McDermott said he asked the White Sox organization to stop the game “for public safety reasons,” but it was not stopped.
While some witnesses reported hearing a popping sound, many fans interviewed afterward said they were not aware a shooting had happened.
A University of Chicago Medical Center doctor who was at the ballgame and who tended to both wounded women said she heard no gunfire and noticed no commotion coming from the crowd. Dr. Jeanne Farnan said a man came running up the stairs, waving his hands over his head and calling for security.
“I asked him if there was a medical emergency, and he said, ‘Yes, there’s a woman that’s bleeding a lot,’” Farnan said. “I walked down about five or six rows and found the woman seated with her right leg up on the bench.”
Waller said the game was not stopped because police didn’t see any threat of an active shooter or “flare from a weapon.” He said officials didn’t want to “create a panic.”
Scott Reifert, the White Sox vice president of communications, said the decision to allow the game to continue fell completely to the police department, and he acknowledged that officials consulted with the team’s security personnel.
“It was determined that there was no immediate threat, and so the game proceeded,” he added.
The Gage Park man said it was only the second time he and his sister have attended a White Sox game.
“It’s unfortunate,” he said. “Hopefully we can go to another one without no gunshot.”
Contributing: Tom Schuba