Chicago Tribune

6 years ago, 13 people were wounded in one of Chicago's worst shootings. Today, Cornell Square Park is thriving

CHICAGO - There was a time when Deonta Howard's family worried whether he would ever want to play in a park again.

After all, Deonta was just 3 when he was shot as he played "Ring Around the Rosie" at Cornell Square Park in the fall of 2013. Two gunmen sprayed the basketball courts with an AK-47, injuring 13 people in one of Chicago's worst shootings.

Six years after the eruption of gunfire at the park in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, the last of the seven men convicted in connection with the gang revenge shooting was finally sentenced earlier this month to prison.

Despite its bloody history, the sprawling park at 51st and Wood streets remains a vital resource for its South Side neighbors, a place of optimism and pride, community activists say.

Craig Chico, the president and CEO of the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council, credited current leadership at the park and a collaboration of neighborhood groups - soccer teams, regularly scheduled anti-violence events that bring movies, cookouts and an upcoming Halloween Fest - for helping

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