A 17-year-old Oak Park and River Forest High School student was shot outside a house party near Long Avenue and Iowa Street in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood shortly after midnight Friday.

OPRF officials were working Monday to squelch rumors that the youth, a south Oak Park resident, had been killed in the shooting. That rumor reportedly circulated quickly through the crowd at the Huskie football game Saturday afternoon. Chicago police confirmed that at least one Oak Park boy was in “serious condition” at the time of his transport to Loyola Medical Center in Maywood.

According to Chicago police, Jerel Smith, 17, of the 5400 block of West Augusta Boulevard, was killed and several others wounded near Long Avenue and Iowa Street after a man fired a shotgun at a group of people leaving a party about 12:15 a.m.

OPRF spokeswoman Kay Foran directed callers to the school’s Web site for any updates on the situation. Foran said there had been “extensive and inaccurate rumors among our students and staff.” The school said two OPRF students had been injured. One was treated and released, and the other is expected to be discharged soon and make a full recovery.

Foran said that OPRF’s Crisis Team met Monday morning and that all school staff have been advised to send any students who needed assistance to Room 308 for counseling services or to their deans or counselors. Foran said there were additional Safety and Support personnel present Monday, as well as an increased Oak Park police presence around campus to reassure students that their safety and well-being is of paramount importance.

Foran said the school would appreciate any parental support in quelling rumors and in maintaining calm. Anyone with questions or concerns, or additional information about the incident is asked to contact the OPRF Superintendent’s office at 708/434-3511 or e-mail Dr. Attila J. Weninger at aweninger@oprfhs.org.

-Bill Dwyer

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