A day after two women were wounded by gunfire while sitting in the outfield seating area at Guaranteed Rate Field Friday night, questions remained on whether the shots were fired inside or outside the stadium and why the game continued despite an request from a high-ranking officer to halt play. .
Both women, 26 and 42, were expected to recover from the unusual incident at the Bridgeport ballpark that occurred during the fourth inning. Officials on Saturday described a delay in the police response, because the incident first appeared to be a fan who needed first-aid for an undetermined wound.
“No one understood it was a bullet or gunshot. So there was this time delay as that person got treatment,” Scott Reifert, the Sox senior vice president of communications told reporters Saturday. “Then as they investigated a little bit more, we stared to understand what may have happened.”
Officials said no one knows exactly where the gunshot came from.
The game was not interrupted despite the incident taking place yards from the outfield and the White Sox bullpen. Stadium grounds crew members had already begun installing crowd control barriers on the field, meant to keep fans in place during the postgame concert, when the announcement came through that the concert was canceled.
A police spokesperson on social media said late Friday that the department would provide information on a “shooting incident” at a media briefing, but officials canceled the briefing, opting instead for a written statement.
The Chicago Police Department declined to comment further Saturday. Department representatives specifically declined to comment on whether the shots came from inside or outside the stadium.
“The investigation into last night’s incident is currently active and ongoing by Area 1 Detectives and the White Sox organization,” a police spokesperson said in an email Saturday evening.
“This evening during the Chicago White Sox vs. Oakland Athletics game at Guaranteed Rate Field, a 42-year-old female victim sustained one gunshot wound to the leg. A 26-year-old female victim also sustained a graze wound to the abdomen,” the statement read. “The 42-year-old female was transported to University of Chicago Medical Center where she is listed in fair condition. The 26-year-old female refused medical attention.”
Wounded spectators were seated in Section 161, in the left outfield, either within or near the stadium’s bleacher section, according to a police report.
The 42-year-old female was shot, suffering wounds in her right-upper thigh and calf, according to a police report. A bullet was lodged in her lower leg, the document stated.
She was taken to the University of Chicago Hospital, according to the report. One witness heard a loud popping noise and felt something strike her, according to the police document.
She later found a bullet lodged in a hooded sweatshirt that had been tied around her waist, according to the report. A second woman was grazed and refused treatment.
According to the document, one Chicago police commander on the scene told the Sox at 8:12 p.m. that Chief of Patrol Brian McDermott wanted the Sox to stop the game for public safety reasons, but play continued.
Police said they responded and coordinated with White Sox security but did not believe the situation presented an “active threat.”
Reifert declined to comment specifically on the request to stop the game. He said that in later innings, CPD and White Sox security staff worked together and decided to allow the game to go on uninterrupted.
A postgame concert was canceled not out of safety concerns, Reifert said, but in order to allow CPD to begin an investigation inside the stadium. Plans for the 90s theme show included performer Vanilla Ice.
“That determination was made because CPD basically needed the lights on in the stadium and to have spectators move so they could start their inspection of the area,” Reifert said. “So that decision was made late in the game.”
Some fans, not realizing what had occurred, were disappointed when the Jumbotron screen inside the ballpark indicated the concert had been scratched due to “technical difficulties.”
Reifert declined to discuss any upcoming changes to White Sox security procedures following the incident.
According to ABC7, Mayor Brandon Johnson addressed the shooting Saturday morning by reiterating that the investigation was ongoing and Saturday night’s Sox game would go on as scheduled.
“The game is still scheduled for this evening,” Johnson added. “The local police department is doing everything that they can within their power to make sure that we keep people safe.”
Reifert stood by the choice for the Sox to play.
“We remain confident in our security,” Reifert said. “One of our primary objectives is to ensure the safety of our fans.”
In a statement, Ald. Nicole Lee, 11th, said she was “shocked and sickened” by the shooting and said she was engaged in talks with police and White Sox officials to ensure the public’s safety.
“I am in ongoing communication with both the Chicago Police Department and the White Sox organization, and it is my promise to our community and our city that we will get to the bottom of this,” Lee said.
“This information is still preliminary as Area One Detectives are investigating,” the statement read. “We are asking anyone with information about this incident to please contact Area One Detective Division at 312-747-8380 or submit an anonymous tip through CPDTIP.com.”
A spokesperson for Major League Baseball told the Chicago Tribune they are currently “in touch” with the White Sox and the Chicago Police Department as an investigation into the incident continues.
As fans were ushered from the stadium after the ninth inning Friday night, plainclothes Chicago police officers and detectives were on the 100 level of the stadium and on the surrounding streets.
A spectator, Greg Mika, said he was seated in the left center field stands about four rows behind a young woman who received medical treatment to her leg below the knee and watched her walk away while speaking with medics.
The incident occurred early in the game, he said, but fans were not asked to leave. He said authorities did clear out several rows in front of and behind the area where the woman had been seated.
Mika, of the southwest suburbs, and his friends were unclear what happened to the woman as they left after the game. Despite speculation that she may have been injured from a bullet, Mika said his sense of safety at the ballpark was not shaken.
“No, not really,” he said, “because we’re not really sure what happened. We’re just hearing speculation.”
North Center resident Zach Koutsky, 39, went to the game with his 7-year-old son and four of their neighbors’ kids. Kousky said he was oblivious as to what happened two sections away and assumed the concert was canceled because the performer got sick or there was a technical issue.
“By the time I got home, I put the kids to bed and looked at Twitter and saw one of the Sox accounts I follow say that there was a shooting at the park,” he said. “(There was) zero indication that any of that had happened.”
Koutsky, who purchased a 20 game season ticket package earlier this year, says he’s frustrated with the way the White Sox media team has handled the messaging since the shooting took place.
“What indication do I have that they are taking things seriously?” he said, describing the team’s statement as a “passive.”
The canceled concert was billed as the “I Love the 90s Tour” and was to feature Vanilla Ice, Rob Base and Tone Loc. Vanilla Ice, whose real name is Robert Matthew Van Winkle, took to TikTok to respond to the shooting that derailed his postgame performance.
“Nobody died but some nutjob kind of ruined the night for everybody,” a shirtless Van Winkle said in the almost two minute long video. “Support the White Sox, get out there, and we’ll be back and we’ll do the ‘I Love the 90s Tour’ again right here.”
The incident capped off a difficult week for the White Sox. As the team considers a move to the suburbs or perhaps as far as Nashville, Crain’s Chicago Business reported Monday that team Jerry Reinsdorf is looking at selling the Sox.
The Sox also announced the dismissal of executive vice president Ken Williams and general manager Rick Hahn on Tuesday.
Some social media accounts suggested a shooting near 43rd Street, not far from the ballpark. could have seen a bullet carry into the game.
The ShotSpotter system pinged gunfire around the time of the Sox shooting. A day later, a group of women sat at the courtyard outside a multistory senior apartment complex owned by the Chicago Housing Authority, enjoying a welcome breeze as the afternoon waned.
Eva Carpenter, 64, said at first, she believed the White Sox were setting off celebratory fireworks.
“I just heard some, a couple of gunshots,” Carpenter, who has lived at the Minnie Riperton Apartments on South Princeton Avenue and West 43rd Street for about a year and a half. “I thought it was (the) White Sox, but it wasn’t White Sox… and they were shooting like three or four times.”
Carpenter grew up in the Chicago Housing Authority’s Wentworth Gardens rowhouses next door to Sox Park, a place she said she holds dear in her childhood memories thanks to free tickets she said the franchise gave public housing residents as their buildings were torn down. But she said there have been gangs recently feuding around her current home, last month culminating in shots fired at a nearby gas station.
She, and other seniors, sprinted inside their apartment building.
“It’s scary to go to a White Sox game, and somebody’s shooting,” Carpenter said. “I wouldn’t know where to run out…they shooting everywhere. It ain’t just here, it’s everywhere. You turn around, somebody gets shot. And they be innocent people.”
As the Saturday evening game neared, some Sox fans continued their usual stop at a Bridgeport neighborhood bar with tiny Irish flags dangling from the ceiling. One sign proudly displayed, “Welcome back Sox fans!”
John Bagel, 49, had one word to describe how this week of bad headlines felt: “Pathetic.”
“You can quote me on that one. It’s sad. But it’s the city, it’s not the Sox,” said Bagel, who was not at Friday night’s game. “It’s kind of sad there’s a shooting at a baseball game, but what do you expect from the city of Chicago?
Still, Bagel added he was heading to the game to root for them against the Oakland A’s.
”It’s in the back my mind, but I’m still going to the game. I’ll have a good time,” Bagel said, noting there was one way to erase the recent bout of bad press for his team: “The White Sox win the World Series.”