Woman shot while dropping off family: 'You see in a heartbeat how fast something could happen'

Chicago Tribune

Silvia Berger feels fortunate.

She's sitting in her daughter's West Town home, nursing a gunshot wound to the leg from a robbery in back of the house as she was dropping off her daughter, son-in-law and their 2-year-old son.

The gunman ran off with her purse instead of running inside the home where her family was. And the bullet missed her newly reconstructed knee.

“You see in a heartbeat how fast something could happen," said Berger, 69. "He could have walked through into the garage into the house and up. It could have changed radically."

Berger, visiting from Utah, had just picked up the family from Midway Airport after a two-week Jamaican vacation.They were unloading her Lexus SUV near their garage in the 1900 block of West Erie Street around 7:35 p.m. Monday.

They’d already gotten the toddler inside and most of the luggage and packages. Berger said she went out to the car one last time to grab her purse and a shoulder bag, and to move the SUV to the street. She noticed a minivan parked in front of her and a man standing beside it.

She thought maybe he was a neighbor waiting for her to move the SUV.

“I went back to close the garage door and move the car out of the alley and someone was there. Behind me. Which, I thought, was another resident, that I was blocking the alley,’’ Berger said. “As I came around the front of the car, he was running toward the car and going to jump into the car to reach for my handbag. I tried to close the door on him. I just started screaming for help.

“I was screaming at the top of my lungs even before I was shot,’’ she said. “I was screaming the entire time … I was trying to draw attention.”

The robber pushed the door back open. “He was a strong man, I guess, he was not all the way into the car. It (the door) was on his leg, but he was able to push it back on me.’’

Without saying a word, the attacker grabbed her handbag and she began struggling to get it back. He got it away from her and then shot her in the left leg. “He showed me the gun and aimed it at me. I didn’t believe it was really happening. He shot just once. The sound was the most hollowing.”

At least two neighbors came to her aid, one of them using an orange bungee cord as a tourniquet. “For being shot, it could not have been cleaner for what happened," she said. “It went sort of in like an 11 o’clock to 5 o’clock angle. It didn’t hit my knee or any arteries.”

Staffers at Stroger Hospital told her that "one person died last night out of the eight that had been brought in."

“I’m so fortunate, a lot of people are not," she said. “I’m from the mountains in Utah, a very small town. And you...it’s not an excuse. Things can happen anywhere or anytime as we see during the day on the news. You don’t think you’re...that it’s going to be you.

“You need to make each day count.’’

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