The murder epidemic in Chicago extended to a house of God as two men were shot to death outside a church as a worship service was underway. The incident happened Sunday morning on the front steps of Friendship Baptist Church along the 200-block of South Laramie Ave. in the Austin neighborhood on the West Side.
Emmanuel Fleming, 34, a church usher, was on his way to the service along with his three kids, aged 6 to 10. As they walked up the steps to the church, three armed men emerged with their faces covered with bandanas and opened fire. Fleming yelled for his children to take cover before being hit.
Another churchgoer, Michael Smith, 46, also didn't manage to avoid the bullets even if he tried to hide behind a retaining wall. Fleming was rushed to Stroger Hospital and Smith to Mt. Sinai Hospital, but both were pronounced dead on arrival. Investigators say Fleming may have been the target.
Rev. Reginal Bachus said they were singing hymns at 11:15 a.m. when a series of gunshots rang out, prompting the congregation of about 100 people to drop to the floor. A total of seven gunshots were fired. Fleming's children were able to run for safety inside the church building.
Police said the suspects descended from a gas station across the street onto the unsuspecting victims. They drove off in a silver or gray SUV after the double fatal shooting. Chicago Police Deputy Chief Al Nagode said they will review security cameras footages for the suspects.
Chicago is facing one of the most violent years on record that even churches are not being spared. "It seems like the more people march and carry signs — and the more churches bind together to say 'Stop the violence' — the more they disregard it and just continue to kill," church member Bruno Carter lamented.