As thousands of looters stormed the streets of downtown Chicago last weekend, a coterie of angry rioters set their sights on a charity house for sick children and their families.
WLS-TV reported Monday that a group of looters smashed the doors of the Ronald McDonald House near the Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.
At the time of the attack, more than 30 children and their families, as well as staff members, were inside the building, a facility owned and operated by the Ronald McDonald House Charities, a nonprofit providing free housing for sick kids and their families as they received medical care.
Lisa Mitchell, vice president of the charity, said they were “very concerned” by the rioting happening just outside the building’s front doors. She told the local news station staff members, parents, and children were “frightened” by the incident.
“They’re already in a really, really difficult spot, and having this kind of additional stress and worry about being able to get to and from the hospital, even though we’re five blocks away, because of safety concerns, is just doubling the strain,” she explained.
Thankfully, no one was hurt in the accident. It’s unclear at this point whether the Ronald McDonald House was specifically targeted or if it just got caught up in the melee as looters destroyed nearby high-end retail shops.
As Chicago descended into utter chaos, more than 400 police officers were called in to help quell the violence, according to CBN News. When all was said and done, there were more than 100 arrests made, two people shot, and 13 police officers injured.
The havoc didn’t only result in damage to the charity house; it also thwarted the plans of 2-year-old Owen Buell, who is at the Lurie Children’s Hospital, where he is being treated for stage 4 neuroblastoma.
Valeria Mitchell, Owen’s mother, told WBBM-FM her family had planned to “have cake and ice cream and do some presents at home with [Owen’s] siblings and his grandma” but soon received a call from a nurse telling them it was too unsafe for them to come in to the Ronald McDonald House.
Mitchell recalled the frightful situation, saying, “The whole door was shattered and it looked like a bullet hole, so I started freaking out thinking about how unsafe that was. You shouldn’t feel that way when your kid needs medical care. You shouldn’t be afraid to walk a few blocks down the street.”
The recent looting as well as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has only worsened her stress levels, Owen’s mom admitted.
“I ask myself, ‘Why can he not just have cancer? Why does there have to be coronavirus with it? Why is there all this protesting?’ I just feel like a lot of this stuff really makes it worse for him and our family,” she said. “If he was going through treatment a year ago, his siblings would be able to come here.”