A 16-year-old girl was shot in the chest on Chicago's Near West Side. (Posted on: March 19, 2014)

A 16-year-old girl remained hospitalized this morning after she was apparently caught in crossfire in the Heart of Chicago neighborhood on the West Side, police said.

The girl was shot in the chest around 4 p.m. Tuesday in the 1800 block of South Wood Street, according to Police News Affairs Officer Thomas Sweeney. She was taken to John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital, where her condition was stabilized, Sweeney said.

The shooting followed an argument between two groups affiliated with different gangs, a police source said. One of the groups chased another in the direction of the grocery store and the girl was caught in the middle, the source said. She was struck by a bullet intended for someone else, the source said.

The girl is expected to survive, the police source said.

The shooter, who appeared to be in his late teens or early 20s, had been chasing someone running east with a companion from nearby Harrison Park when the shooter opened fire, according to two witnesses. The shooter missed the person he was chasing and instead hit the girl, who was standing on the sidewalk near the front of a grocery store, said the witnesses, who requested anonymity, saying they feared retribution.

The shooter fled north toward 17th Street, witnesses said.

The shooting happened a block west of the 18th Street Pink Line station and two blocks east of an elementary school, on a busy commercial stretch with dollar stores, restaurants and a dentist's office. 

As the sidewalks of 18th Street filled with commuters walking home and parents accompanying their children home from school, many stared at the police tape stretched alongside the green walls of the grocery store.

Three bullet holes were visible in front windows of the grocery store, which had signs in Spanish and English and a bright mural covering its outer west wall. Police had placed yellow evidence markers on the ground just west of the corner, in the intersection between Harrison Park and the store.

Elizabeth Benitez, who was walking home from classes at Malcolm X College, said she has become accustomed to nighttime violence in the neighborhood but was shaken to learn of a shooting during the day.

"I know it happens around here, but not when it's school hours and everybody's outside," Benitez said.

The mild afternoon had brought many people outside, from teenagers playing basketball on courts inside Harrison Park to men standing in small groups outside storefronts.

Violence in the area seems to spike on mild days at the end of winter, said Vivianne Castillo, a 23-year-old resident who paused by the scene as she walked east on 18th Street.

"When it gets warm like this, there's always something that happens," she said.

Later on the Far South Side, a man in his 20s was shot in the 13000 block of South Evans Avenue about 8:30 p.m. The man suffered a gunshot wound to the leg and was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he was in serious condition, said Police News Affairs Officer Amina Greer.

Another person was shot in the Little Village neighborhood about 10 p.m. The 21-year-old was shot by someone who fled in a minivan that police chased into suburban Lyons.The shooting happened in the 3000 block of South Tripp Avenue and the 21-year-old was driven to Mount Sinai Hospital with wounds to his hand and back, and is expected to survive. Two people are in custody and a handgun was recovered along the chase route.

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