A 6-month-old baby in Chicago named Jonylah Watkins died early Tuesday after she was shot five times, in an apparent flare-up of gang violence. Her father, the intended target of the shooting, is in critical condition.
After a gunman opened fire on the father and daughter Monday night, surgeons operated on Jonylah for five hours. She died early Tuesday morning. The gunman, ABC reports, is still at large:
“This is another tragedy, because no child, certainly not an infant, should be a victim of gang violence,” McCarthy said at a press conference today. “Although there are a lot of angles that we’re pursuing, there are very strong gang overtones to this particular event.”
McCarthy emphasized that the shooting was a targeted incident, saying: “It was very clear that whoever was doing this was firing at [Jonathan Watkins].”
Police have a video of the vehicle, but with Watkins in critical condition they do not have a good cooperating witness, McCarthy said.
Chicago has experienced tragic and harrowing gun violence in the last year, with hundreds of young people killed or injured in gang-related crossfire. The common misconception about gangs is that they are voluntary groups in which people in the city enlist. That’s not the case; rather, kids are basically assigned a gang to be in, based on where they live. Unfortunately, the violence persists.
In January, public attention turned toward the problem when 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was killed in a case of mistaken identity, just days after her performance at President Obama’s second inauguration. Just last month, an 18-year old mother of an infant was also killed, hours after she traveled to watch the President discuss gun violence in his home city.
There’s no easy answer for how to deal with the horrific murder rate, and the rampant gang-related violence, plaguing the city. But there are opportunities for legislators to confront the issue as they engage in discussions about gun violence prevention legislation and economic justice.