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Violence interrupters recognized boys shot on Chicago's South Side, suspected shooters

Violence interrupters recognized young teens involved in chaotic Chicago shooting
Violence interrupters recognized young teens involved in chaotic Chicago shooting 02:33

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Violence interrupters said the attackers who shot two boys, ages 12 and 14, in South Shore this week are also kids themselves.

CBS 2 has also learned community leaders recognized the suspected shooters from their work in the neighborhood – and responded to a SWAT standoff in hopes of getting them out safely.

The volunteers said they always show up to try to defuse a situation when kids from the South Shore neighborhood are involved. They were among the first to arrive at a chaotic crime scene late Monday.

Police and SWAT teams were called to the 7800 block of South Burnham Avenue Monday night – searching for two people suspected of shooting and seriously wounding a 12-year-old boy and a 14-year-old boy earlier in the day.

Jacob Ellzey was also called to the scene. He leads the New Direction Outreach Street Ministry based in the South Shore community.

"We try and get in front of it before it happens," said Jacob Ellzey. "We found out that we really know these kids through the neighborhood."

Ellzey's group focuses on violence prevention and interruption. He said he quickly realized that his organization has previously interacted with the young shooting victims – and the suspected shooters – involved in the Monday incident.

"To be that young, to be involved, to see your life flash back – you know, it can all be gone in such a short time," said Ellzey.

Ellzey knows from experience. He said he has been shot several times and has even lost family members to gun violence.

It is why he volunteers.

"If you don't pay attention to anything, pay attention to me right now," Ellzey said. "There's only a few ways you are going to end up. It's either being dead or locked up."

Police said at 1:43 p.m. Monday, the 12-year-old and the 14-year-old were shot while in a Kia in the 7800 block of South Escanaba Avenue – a city block to the west of the later SWAT standoff. The boys made it to 74th Street and Kenwood Avenue – about two miles west – leaving the Kia behind in an alley and running into a house for help.

They were taken to the University of Chicago's Comer Children's Hospital.

Police said the alleged shooters hid in a home in the South Shore neighborhood – where Ellzey works tirelessly to make a difference.

"We just want to be of service and, you know, try to mentor; try to monitor these situations in the streets as best as we can," he said.

Ellzey said his group will now try to get into contact with the parents of the kids involved in the shooting on Monday and offer any assistance to the families.

Follow this Facebook link to learn more about the group or get involved.

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