Paramedics mistakenly covered a 17-year-old Chicago shooting victim with a sheet on Monday, believing him to be dead as he clung to life while lying on the ground at the scene of the crime.
"I do understand that paramedics looked at him, believed him to be deceased, covered him with that sheet and moved on to another individual who was nearby who was also shot," Chicago Police First Deputy Superintendent Anthony Riccio said at a news conference Monday.
The boy, later identified as Erin Carey, was pronounced dead at 1:14 a.m. Tuesday, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office. Carey, of the 200 block of South Lockwood Avenue in the city's Austin neighborhood, was one of six people wounded in the University Village shooting early Monday.
The shooting took place at around 4:45 a.m. in the 1300 block of South Loomis Street, officials said.
It appeared to stem from an overnight party at that location, according to police, who said two unknown vehicles were seen driving around the block several times before someone opened fire.
Carey sustained multiple gunshot wounds to the head, according to Chicago police, who said in their initial report on the shooting that he had been pronounced dead on the scene. Police later corrected their statement to say he was taken to Stroger Hospital in "very critical" condition.
First responders mistakenly covered Carey with a sheet before officers realized that he was still breathing, Riccio said.
"They saw motion, movement underneath the sheet," Riccio continued. "Officers who were present notified the paramedics, 'This man is still alive,' and treatment began on him as well."
Riccio said he did not know how long Carey remained under the sheet before authorities realized he was not dead, adding that the incident is something he thought "definitely has to be looked at to find out exactly why that happened."
A witness said he saw the boy moving under the sheet, and that several minutes passed from when officials realized Carey was alive to when he was taken away in an ambulance.
"I was sitting there at least about five, six minutes and they kept saying he's moving. So I got a little closer and then I see his legs move. So he was moving. He was still alive, trying to fight for his life," Kenneth Cooper, who lives in the area, recalled.
"At that point, it took about another at least 10 minutes for one of the police officers to try at least give him some breath-to-breath resuscitation," he continued. "It took another five, six minutes before an ambulance even came."
"I don't know what occurred down there but all I do know is I see a young man laying on the ground fighting for his life and didn't have no type of medical assistance. That's what troubled me," Cooper said.
Chicago police officers do not make the determination on whether someone is alive or deceased, Riccio said, adding that further inquiries may be better addressed by the Chicago Fire Department.
A spokesman for the Chicago Fire Department did not immediately respond to multiple requests for comment.
Carey played for the Chicago Jokers football team, his former coach Eric Mclendon said, adding that he had dreams of going to college and wasn't a "problem child" at all.
Mclendon said the team had experienced loss before but that Carey's death was particularly difficult for them because of the circumstances.
One other person was killed in Monday's shooting, officials said. Shalonza McToy, 22, was found nearby in the 1400 block of South Washburne Avenue with multiple gunshot wounds to her body - on her chest, left arm, head and ear, according to police and the medical examiner's office. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Four others - two 21-year-old men and two 23-year-old men - were wounded in the shooting but expected to survive, according to police.
No one is in custody in connection with the shooting, authorities said, and the investigation remained ongoing.