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A fight and a gunshot forced one of Chicago’s most popular summer spots to close just hours after opening for Memorial Day weekend.
Up to 100 teenagers gathered at the North Avenue beach around 1:30 p.m. on Friday when a fight broke out and someone fired a gun, according to police, Fox 32 reported. Video of the incident showed the group of teens taunting each other before a single gunshot is heard and the crowd disperses.
No one was injured by the gunfire, and police took a 15-year-old boy and one other person into custody. Chicago’s beaches, which stretch along Lake Michigan, officially opened at 11 a.m. Friday for the summer.
Today, on the first day beaches were opened for the season in Chicago, a shooting takes place at the popular North Avenue Beach as about 80 to 100 teenagers gathered. pic.twitter.com/tEJeSW0kNj
— Marie Oakes (@TheMarieOakes) May 26, 2023
“The person who fired the weapon was observed,” Interim Chicago Police Department Supt. Fred Waller said. “He was taken into custody after a very, very short foot pursuit. Another subject in the same area was also observed running away with a weapon and he was taken into custody. Two weapons were recovered from him.”
Claire Nelson, who was at the beach with a group of friends from DePaul University, was only 200 feet away from the group of teenagers at the time of the fight and subsequent gunfire, CBS News reported.
“We were really close, actually. We were having fun, and then all of a sudden these people started fighting, and the police came out, and then we heard a gunshot, and we just ran away to safety,” Nelson said.
The beach reopened a few hours after the incident, and the 15-year-old was charged with two felonies: one count of aggravated assault discharge of a firearm and one count of criminal damage to property worth $500 to $10,000.
The city, led by its new leftist mayor Brandon Johnson, prepared for another weekend of potential violence by increasing police presence across the city and deploying 30 “peacekeepers” trained in de-escalation and conflict intervention. The Chicago PD also said it would be conducting bag checks of large gatherings at beaches.
Last year in Chicago, nine people were killed and 40 were injured in shootings across the city over Memorial Day weekend.
“It’s going to take all of us not just the police, city government to ensure our communities can live and thrive in peace and safety,” Johnson said while discussing the city’s safety plan for the holiday weekend.