AFRICANGLOBE – In a horrifying incident, a six-month-old baby girl was shot five times and killed in Chicago while her father, who was also shot, changed the baby’s diaper in the front seat of his parked minivan.
The father, Jonathan Watkins, 25, was in serious but stable condition at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, according to police, while the shooter is still at large.
“The baby was in the car with her father when someone walked up and shot the baby and the father,” Chicago police spokesman Mike Sullivan told AFP. ”Nobody’s in custody at this time.”
In a city still reeling from the shooting death of Hadiya Pendleton, 16, the death of Jonylah Watkins is sure to intensify the call for city officials to bring an end to the carnage that has wrought 60 murders and 250 shootings already this year, after 2012 saw a 16 percent increase in the murder rate.
The Chicago Tribune reported that the baby’s 20-year-old mother was shot in the leg last spring while she was pregnant.
“She’s very distraught. She’s in a lot of pain,” family spokesman Pastor Corey Brooks told the paper. “They just got married several weeks ago. This is a tough time.”
The pastor said his church is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the killer’s capture. Community activist Andrew Holmes was also contributing $1,000 to the reward, bringing its total to $6,000.
“We’re going to take back our neighborhood. We’re going to find who did this,” Brooks said.
The baby died on Tuesday morning after undergoing five hours of surgery Monday at Comer Children’s Hospital.
At a news conference, Chicago Police Department Supt. Garry McCarthy said that it appeared the gunman was targeting Watkins.
“This is another tragedy because no child — and certainly not an infant — should be the victim of gang violence,” McCarthy said.
“She’s nothing but 6 months old. How could anybody — what kind of heart?” Mary Young, the child’s grandmother said earlier Tuesday, after they had kept a vigil at the hospital.
Police say the father was changing the baby’s diaper in the front seat of the van when a gunman walked up and shot them both. Police were able to view surveillance video of the gunman getting away in a blue van waiting nearby.
“There is always someone getting shot in this neighborhood. We are close together, and we know them. There are killings all the time,” said relative Tiffany Young.
Investigators say they believe the shooting might have been gang related and that Jonathan Watkins has gang affiliations and an extensive criminal history. But his family denies that allegation.
“At this point, although there’s a lot of angles that we’re pursuing, there are very strong gang overtones to this particular event,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy also said officers were still looking for the suspect without help from any witnesses so far.
By; Nick Chiles