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Youth baseball players hit ground at St. Rita High School field as gunshots ring out steps from campus

Youth baseball players hit the ground during shooting near St. Rita High School 01:42

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Nearly two dozen gunshots rang out Thursday afternoon within easy earshot of a freshman baseball game in progress at St. Rita of Cascia High School on the Southwest Side.

As CBS 2's Charlie De Mar reported, the Gamechanger app video shows the baseball game between the St. Rita Freshman Mustangs and Marmion Academy in progress when 23 shots ring out. A track meet was also going on at St. Rita at the time.

When the gunshots ring out, several young players drop right down where they were area on the diamond.

St. Rita freshman baseball coach Brendan Garrett said in a statement late Thursday that there was an "isolated shooting that happened on Western Avenue which is not on St. Rita's campus."

"Nobody from St. Rita nor Marmion was near the shooting and everyone on St. Rita's campus is safe," he wrote.

Garrett wrote that both baseball games Thursday went on to be completed, and the track meet continued after the gunfire.

Police said the shooting happened steps away from the school around 5:20 p.m. A 42-year-old woman was coming out of the McDonald's drive-thru at 7832 S. Western Ave. in a black Lexus early Thursday evening, when a dark-colored sport-utility vehicle went by and someone inside fired shots toward her Lexus – also causing damage to five other parked cars, police said.

The suspects fled east on 79th Street, police said.

The scene is about a block from St. Rita of Cascia High School, which is located at 7740 S. Western Ave.

CBS 2's De Mar talked to some track athletes who heard the shots.

"We heard some pretty serious gunshots, and it kind of scared the whole team, and we had this really big – we had this group chat, and everyone kept texting, and it was like, 'Are you guys OK?'" said high school freshman Sophia Roy.

"At first, I didn't know if they were gunshots or not. I thought they might have been fireworks or something," said high school freshman Sorin Olinger, "and then I started to get a little worried. I was like, what the heck is going on here?"

A grandparent said that her daughter and grandson were across the street at a nearby station when the shooting occurred. 

"All of a sudden they saw this car pull up and they started shooting toward McDonald's, so they go to ducking and everything like that. So, it was really terrifying," said Sabrina Johnson. 

"I know there's no place really safe but we really thought this area was pretty safe, but it happens anywhere," she said. 

In a statement Friday afternoon, St. Rita interim president Deacon John Donahue said the incident "was disturbing and a sad reminder that violence can occur anywhere at any time." 

"We thank our security staff and law enforcement for their quick response. We remain fully committed to the safety of our students, faculty, staff, parents, and guests," Donahue added.

Police are still searching for the person responsible for the shooting.

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