Illinois

Victims of Halloween mass shootings fight for healing, call for support

Three of the 14 children who were shot and survived Halloween night are moving on, finishing school, attending daycare and even celebrating their 12th birthday nearly a month after the West Side mass shooting, relatives said.

The mother of three, an 11-year-old girl and brothers, ages 3 and 13, shared heartbreaking details with the Tribune as they begin the long process of rebuilding their lives.

Meanwhile, other survivors, including a woman who was hit by a car while fleeing a hail of gunfire, have been released from hospitals and face missed work, doctor bills and seemingly endless rehab appointments.

At a “healing discussion” Tuesday, many victims said they had not received much help to heal their physical and emotional trauma. They called for more community support and asked people to donate to their GoFundMe, which received few donations.

Pierre Riley died of gunshot wounds sustained in the attack, police said, and the case remains open with no arrests.

Brothers, 13-year-old Dimitriy and 3-year-old Demyan, don’t talk much about shooting at California Avenue and Polk Streetwhich began as a family reunion and balloon release for close family friend Shakiya Lucas, who died suddenly after complications from surgery.

Both boys were shot in the right leg.

“They’re doing better,” said their mother, Shamikis Patterson.

Demetrius was home-schooled and doing his eighth-grade homework, while Demyan is a “very, very busy 3-year-old” who has returned to kindergarten after missing his friends but is still afraid to go outside, Patterson said. “He’s really scared and doesn’t want to leave the house.”

Dimitriy still cannot go to school, because he cannot feel his legs or feet.

“He can’t keep his balance — he’s walking on a walker,” Patterson said. “They do say he’s going to make a full recovery, but it’s so frustrating because they’re so young.”

The boys had a “fantastic time” at a birthday party for their friend, an 11-year-old girl who was also shot in the attack, their mother said. Initially, Demyan was cautious about participating.

“He kept saying, ‘I don’t want to go near the fireworks.’ He doesn’t understand that it wasn’t fireworks at all,” Patterson said.

The baby, who was moving, was in his mother’s arms when the attack happened. They “fell to the ground” and Patterson pulled him under the wheels of a nearby car to hide from the sparks.

Then, apparently, the bullet ricocheted off the bag she was wearing and into Demyan’s calf. Patterson was not shot.

Numb with fear, she handed the baby over to her sister, but later learned that Demetrius was also among the victims.

“Don’t panic,” someone told her.

Waves of guilt come over Patterson in sharp bursts. “I keep apologizing to them because I originally wasn’t going to come to the vigil,” she said.

But Patterson said Demetrius is asking her not to blame herself. “It’s not your fault,” he tells her.

Neighbors leave the scene of a mass shooting at Polk Street and California Avenue on the city's West Side on October 31, 2022.

Her mom, Tiffany Patterson, said the 11-year-old attended a Halloween party just before the vigil, where she was surrounded by family and friends. She is not being identified for security reasons at her mother’s request.

They were about to leave, so Patterson started trying to grab her.

“I was looking for her so I could tell her to go get her things; that’s when the shooting started,” Patterson said. “She was not on the street. She was not there.”

When Patterson found the girl, the 11-year-old girl was clinging to the side of Patterson’s 66-year-old mother. Both were shot. They managed to hide in a neighboring house and lay on the floor comforting each other.

Shocked, Patterson watched as her daughter calmly and calmly pulled the bullet from her calf.

“She was talking normal, acting like nothing happened,” Patterson said.

Patterson picked up his daughter and ran outside, not wanting to wait for an ambulance. A good Samaritan who lives down the street offered to help after hearing gunshots and people screaming. “He took us to the hospital,” she said.

Once at Mount Sinai Hospital, emergency personnel placed the grandmother and granddaughter in side-by-side rooms.

The girl returned home early the next morning, and her grandmother, Bobbi Jean Curry, came home two days later with four holes in her thigh.

Bobby Jean Curry watches TV with his granddaughter on Nov. 18, 2022, in Chicago.

When she returns to the real world, her focus remains on taking care of her grandmother and enjoying her new 12-year-old status.

“She changes bandages and does everything for her. She can’t move much,” Patterson said of his mother.

Patterson wondered how her daughter would ever put the tragedy behind her.

“I don’t know,” Patterson said. “I think about it every day.”

The woman who organized the vigil that night, Cheris Patterson, said the family recently organized GoFundMe accountwhich as of November. 22 raised $345 of its $100,000 goal. The victims of the shooting are mostly close relatives and friends.

The last two people to be released from hospitals, Contina Phillips-Patterson, 48, and Laquita Kent, 34, returned home on Nov. 15, according to Patterson, who was also killed in the attack.

Cheris Patterson recovers from gunshot wounds suffered during a shooting at a home on Halloween, Nov. 4, 2022, in Chicago.

When the shooting began, Kent, who was not shot, ducked between the two cars. “One car took off and dragged me down the street,” she said.

“I don’t have any broken bones or anything. I had skin grafts done because of my wrists and hands — they were really scratched up when I was being dragged,” Kent said.

What happened next is vague, but Kent believes she was still conscious and tried to sit up.

“I noticed my breathing wasn’t right, so I laid down on my back and some people came over and helped me off the street until an ambulance came and took me to Stroger,” Kent said.

Reflecting on the ordeal, Kent decided to forego balloon releases and similar events in the future. “I chose not to watch the visuals.”

For Contina Phillips-Patterson, who is still raw afterwards losing two of his sons in a fiery car crash in Chicago in June 2019, the whole situation made her realize how lucky she was to be alive.

“I’m trying. I’m trying. I’m fine — I’m back home,” Phillips said. “I’ve been there 15 days — but yeah, I’m glad to be here.”

Contina Phillips-Patterson, center, shows a photo of her gunshot wounds to Sharica Patterson at Good Hope Free Will Baptist Church in Chicago on Nov. 22, 2022.

Phillips, who is Cheris Patterson’s sister, said she has had multiple surgeries and a skin graft on her left leg. The bullet damaged nerves and broke a bone, and she won’t be able to work for months, she said.

“I can’t lift my legs. I can step on the gas pedal of the car, but I can’t take it off,” she said. “I’m just praying that I can pull myself together.”

On Tuesday, Phillips-Patterson wore a hospital bracelet on her wrist for the “circle of peace.” A loose brace covered her entire leg. She walked with the help of crutches, and her sister limped.

The victims told where the bullets hit: in the thigh, in the leg. And, worst of all, a child. They wiped away tears and noted that they didn’t get much support, despite the fact that politicians and reporters showed up in the beginning.

The Patterson family’s GoFundMe has barely raised any money. Having to ask for donations to get the medical and psychological support they need after the shooting, the cause of which they still don’t know, is frustrating, they said.

Victims and friends talk about the mass shooting at a healing gathering at Good Hope and Will Baptist Church on Nov. 22, 2022.
Sherice Patterson reflects on her recovery from gunshot wounds at home on Nov. 4, 2022, in Chicago.

There has been a significant lack of support for victims, which is the responsibility of leaders and agencies across the city, said Cornelius Parks, pastor of Good Hope Baptist Church, which hosted the panel.

“You can offer resources and try to get (victims) to come and get them. But how about you come to them where they are?’ he asked. “They’re trying to make it normal in this community. It is not normal for a mass shooting of this magnitude to occur.»

Terry Young, vice president of the anti-violence organization Black Men United, said the response to the mass shooting is strikingly different from the well-deserved outpouring of support that followed the Highland Park mass shooting.

“They didn’t ask people what they needed. They came, everything was provided,” he said.

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Victims called for psychologists for their children and public donations. Some said they wanted to punish the person or people who shot them.

Compared to the $100,000 reward offered by a construction crew to find the man who put a noose on the Obama presidential center, the $15,000 reward police are offering for the mass shooter is not enough, Cheris Patterson said.

“I didn’t talk to the police. I didn’t hear a word. My family didn’t hear anything,” she said. “I feel like it’s being swept under the rug.”

The Patterson family’s GoFundMe, which family members said will go to the victims of the shooting www.gofundme.com/f/the-patterson-family-fundraiser-healing-process.

rsobol@chicagotribune.com

jsheridan@chicagotribune.com

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