The shooting happened about 10:40 p.m. near Chicago Avenue and State Street, according to Chicago police spokesman Tom Ahern.
Paramedics wheeled stretcher after stretcher under police tape. Five people were taken to local hospitals from the scene, including a male with a gunshot wound to his chest who was pronounced dead at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
A man, 31, was taken to Stroger Hospital, where he also died, police said.
A 17-year-old boy was also taken to Stroger with multiple gunshot wounds, while another man, 19, was taken to Northwestern in critical condition with a gunshot wound to his chest, police said. A 46-year-old woman was shot in her leg and taken to Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where she was stabilized.
Later, four men who were hurt in the shooting showed up at Northwestern Memorial Hospital: a 31-year-old who was shot in the hand, a 21-year-old shot in the arm, a 30-year-old with two graze wounds and a 29-year-old with one graze wound, police said. They were all in good condition.
Police had initially said a total of 10 people were shot, but later changed that to 9.
The chaotic scene quickly spilled into the nearby CTA Red Line station as police searched for a suspect and a gun, stopping at least one train and evacuating passengers. CTA officials were stationed near the subway entrance as police combed the tracks.
It started with a fight between two groups outside a McDonald's restaurant about 10:40 p.m. Thursday. Shots were fired into a crowd, people ran, including the alleged gunman, who fled down to the CTA's Red Line platform.
He reportedly tried to change his clothing but police located him and took him into custody. They arrested another male for obstructing justice and are looking for a 3rd suspect.
Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown described what he saw on a city POD camera, "We see on video, a person with gun fires into the crowd, hitting nine, killing two wounding seven. He flees, to the CTA Red Line platform. Officers are close behind. A group follows the shooter down platform who’s still armed with a gun. Officers chase, and capture him."
Shaun Davis, age 29, was shot twice, in the leg and under his arm. He returned to the scene pleading with people to put down the guns.
A person suffered burns when she apparently fell against the third rail, according to fire officials. She was stabilized at Stroger Hospital.
At least one person was taken into custody and a weapon was recovered, Ahern said.
"When the fight first started, we were right next to them," said Deonna Jackson, 18. "We had to run because I didn’t want anyone to swing on me."
"We were literally right there," she said. "The person that they jumped on, we were talking to the people he was with, which turned out to be some girls."
"We get to 7-Eleven, we turn around and they just get to shooting, to shooting like crazy," Jackson said.
Tensions erupted among the crowd of onlookers, some of them yelling as officers blocked off the streets around the McDonald’s. Some in the crowd began fighting with each other and officers quickly moved in to break them up.
One person asked an officer why it had to be this way. "It doesn’t have to be," the officer responded.
Several of the wounded were taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, including one person who died. As the sun rose Friday, two people who said they knew one of the victims talked near a car where a woman, appearing distraught, spoke to someone on the phone.
"There’s nothing you can do or say to help us right now," one of them said.
He said it was difficult getting information from police and hospitals. "These victims have mothers."
About an hour later, the woman was seen leaving the hospital in tears. Three others sobbed and hugged each other near the hospital’s entrance.
Around the same time, Mayor Lori Lightfoot was issuing a statement calling the shooting "an outrageous act of violence" and saying she has asked Police Superintendent David Brown for a "fixed post of uniformed officers at the intersection of State and Chicago and a separate fixed post in the Red Line station."
The mayor said she has also asked the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection to determine what other measures need to be taken "to address long-standing concerns along that block."
"Area residents, commuters and others must simply have the peace of mind that this highly trafficked area is safe, and it is time for more specific, concrete steps to be taken to address this area once and for all," Lightfoot said.
"It is simply awful and unacceptable that once again, another tragedy occurs because firearms are in the hands of people who simply do not care about themselves or the value of another’s life," she added.
Shootings have been spiking downtown all year. They are up 225% in the 18th District, which includes the McDonald’s. In the 1st District, which covers parts of downtown and the Loop, shootings are up 100%.
About 40 minutes before the mass shooting, two men were wounded in a gunfight less than a mile away in the 400 block of West Locust Street, according to police.
The men, 29 and 32, began arguing before both opened fire, police said. The younger man was shot in the right forearm and left ankle, and was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in good condition. The older man was shot in the abdomen and went to Northwestern, where he was also in good condition, officials said.
Police say the shooting is not related to the attack at McDonald’s.