Fire chief wants to know why a backup ambulance wasn’t called in sooner when the three ambulances in the city were tied up
As 16-year-old Chantel LaMay Matiyosus lay dying of two gunshot wounds in an Addison Avenue driveway, neighbors quickly made a series of 911 calls.
But it took nearly 20 minutes for the first ambulance to arrive — and one fire truck was sent to Addison Street across the city by mistake.
“I kept asking, ‘Where is the ambulance? Where is the ambulance? Please, someone, call for an ambulance,’” said the girl’s mother, Stephanie Matiyosus, who rushed to the scene minutes after the shooting. “I just don’t understand why they took so long.”
The girl was killed and two other teens wounded after at least one gunman opened fire around 10:57 p.m. outside a home where a baby shower was winding down Saturday.
Based on evidence at the scene, it appeared that at least one gunman opened fire while behind a car. Neighbors said it appeared the suspect or suspects then ran down the street.
Sources said police and rescue personnel were first told the shooting was on Addison Street — not Addison Avenue. As a result of the confusion, police cruisers and fire trucks were sent to both Addison Street and Addison Avenue.
The first police cruiser arrived at the scene six minutes after the initial call — at 11:03 p.m. — and one fire truck arrived a few minutes later at 11:07 p.m.
And while police and firefighters were scrambling to the scene, the ambulances in the city were tied up on other calls and didn’t arrive until 11:14 and 11:15 p.m.
There are just three ambulances covering the city on weekends and if they are tied up, backup is to be called in.
“What I am looking into now is to see why we didn’t have any coverage,” Fire Chief Kenneth Galligan said. “Normally, I would say, the vast majority of all calls are covered within six minutes.”
He said there are times that calls come in so quickly a backup ambulance can’t be sent in soon enough.
“Sometimes it becomes a chess game,” Galligan said.
Galligan said that appears to be what happened Saturday night.
One ambulance was on a call and two were at the hospital when the three teens were shot on Addison Avenue, he said.
There are, on average, more than 14,000 ambulance and medical calls in the city yearly, Galligan said. There are four ambulances on duty Monday through Friday and three on Saturday and Sunday.
Neighbors said the narrow street was lined with cars the night of the shooting: one family was hosting a baby shower and another had just moved in.
“We just heard gunshots,” one neighbor, who didn’t want to be identified, said. “I got up and saw the young lady lying by the driveway.”
One man was trying to help the girl while neighbors called 911, another neighbor said. “It took a long time for the ambulance to get here, a really long time.”
Chantel’s mother said she received a phone call from someone saying her daughter had been shot and she rushed to the scene. When she arrived, police were there but no ambulances.
“I kept telling every single person I saw, ‘call 911, call 911,’” she said. “There was a man trying to perform CPR on my daughter.”
She said she’s not sure if her daughter could have been saved if an ambulance had arrived sooner. “I don’t know,” she said.
Meanwhile, authorities on Monday were piecing together information about the shooting and were trying to identify the gunman or gunmen.
Ballistics evidence was recovered from the scene and authorities examined for fingerprints a car behind which one gunman was suspected to have crouched.
Chantel’s mother said she was told someone began yelling “South side, South side” — a reference to the South side gang — then the shots rang out.
Chantel’s mother said her daughter was leaving a baby shower for a friend when she was shot. The parents of the 21-year-old pregnant woman said the party was a family affair and they don’t understand why anyone would open fire.
About 20 people were left at the house — mostly family — when the shots rang out, said Fortunerto Goncalves, who hosted the baby shower for his eight-month pregnant daughter. He said he had turned off the music around 9:30 or 9:45 p.m.
His wife, Maria, said she was in the backyard when she heard the gunshots on the street. “I don’t understand why,” she said of the shooting.
Maureen Boyle can be reached at email@example.com.