Chicago shooting victim reflects on ‘crazy thing’ that happened


CHICAGO – If you’re looking for a reason not to fear increased shootings in “safe” parts of the city, consider the state of our city from TJ Kory’s perspective.

The 25-year-old data scientist grew up in Naperville. He went to college in Alabama and moved here for a good job of calculating financial data.

An apartment in Wrigleyville was Kory’s port of entry into city life in 2019. He was there long enough to enjoy being able to walk from his front steps to a Cubs game. This year he moved to Wicker Park, where he lives with three roommates.

Kory enjoys spending time watching live music or seeing the big game in a sports bar. He hardly ever worried about the shootings and murders his journalist girlfriend writes about.

On some weekdays he rents a Divvy bike to get to work at the old post office and – when the wind is strong enough to cruise the lake – to Monroe Harbor, where he joins a crew of sailors. competing in “can of beer”. races on the lake.

This is where Kory was heading on Wednesday afternoon, pedaling the fastest route to the harbor, southeast of Milwaukee Avenue from his first floor apartment, when he became an unsuspecting victim. of violence in the street.

Under the railway viaduct just north of Kinzie Street, Kory’s left leg suddenly went numb. A bullet hit him in the left buttock.

“I thought something hit my foot,” he said. “I didn’t realize I had been shot until I patted my leg and my hand came back covered in blood. Then I heard gunshots behind me.”

People inside two SUVs were shooting at each other as they accelerated towards the West Loop on a stretch of Milwaukee Avenue dotted with protected bike lanes. These lanes are a preferred bike path for young professionals from the hip neighborhoods on the northwest side of the bustling nightlife, craft breweries and trendy restaurants that stretch from Albany Park, to Logan Square and Wicker Park. to East Ukrainian Village and West Loop.

Cars involved in Wednesday’s shooting passed Kory as he made his way onto the wide sidewalk under the overpass. “I tried to stay low because I could still hear the shots,” he said.

He called 911 and texted his mother, “Don’t panic. I got shot. But I’m fine.

A 911 dispatcher told him to keep the pressure on the wound. A stranger named Zach who found him on the sidewalk pressed Kory’s T-shirt against the wound until paramedics arrived.

The cell phone video captured the effort of the Good Samaritan.

At Northwestern Memorial Hospital, medics told Kory the bullet tore the muscle and lodged in his upper thigh in a place too deep to be safely removed. “Apparently I got hit in the best place to get shot,” he said. “It didn’t touch anything major, luckily.”

Police detectives went to Kory’s hospital room to ask him what had happened. “I really didn’t see what the cars looked like,” he said. “I had nothing of use to the police.”

Later Wednesday evening, his mother brought him home from the hospital. Over the next few days, Kory struggled to walk more than half a block. A bruise appeared on his thigh, marking what he believes to be the ball’s resting place. But he feels better. A little stronger every day.

“I’m still limping. It’s really hard to move,” he said. “I may need to go to physical therapy. I have a follow-up appointment and I will discuss it with the doctors.”

His roommates supported him and helped him get around their apartment.

“Usually they treat this like a crazy thing that happened,” Kory said. “Some of them won’t tell their parents, who are already worried that they live in Chicago.”

On Monday, before her workday was taken up with remote meetings, I asked Kory if getting shot in Chicago had changed her outlook on life in the city.

“I had a hard time thinking about everything that happened. It almost doesn’t look like I got shot. I feel like I had a random accident. Maybe I got shot. it will be different in six months. I know that gun violence and carjackings are more and more frequent closer to my home, but the neighborhood does not seem dangerous to me. I cycle on this road once a week “, did he declare.

“People ask me if I’m going to leave town. I really don’t think so. I don’t feel unsafe in my day-to-day life, although my experience might say otherwise. When you live in the city, you might have more inherent dangers than living in the suburbs. But the compromises are worth it. “

Maybe the bullet in his thigh is a reminder: you can’t protect yourself from fate.

So far this year, 632 people were shot dead in Chicago.

3,002 other people were injured by gunshot wounds.

Yet young professionals like Kory still flock to the city’s hippest neighborhoods, where you can line up for exclusive sneaker outings, catch your favorite indie touring band, enjoy a gourmet burger, and wash it down with hot water. craft beer brewed in your neighborhood.

They might even be the driving force behind Chicago low population growth.

Kory said he didn’t want to sound cliché, but he just feels “lucky to be here”.

Living. And in Chicago.

“I have to enjoy it,” he said, “and live life as long as I can.”

Maybe we can all relate to this.

Mark Konkol, recipient of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting, wrote and produced the Peabody Award winning series “Time: The Kalief Browder Story”. He has been a producer, screenwriter and narrator for the “Chicagoland” docuseries on CNN and a consulting producer on the Showtime documentary “16 Shots”.

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