Just two days after 11-year-old Shamiya Adams was killed by a stray bullet that flew though her friend’s West Side apartment during a sleepover, the young girl’s pastor said words alone could not accurately capture how “despicable” and “senseless” her death was.
“I don’t think you can have words to phrase it, to talk about how despicable it is,” the Rev. George W. Daniels before Sunday service at First Baptist Congregational Church.
During the service, several friends of Shamiya stood before the pulpit and sobbed as the congregation offered a special prayer for those who were close to the slain girl.
A church organ wailed as friends and relatives embraced, and a clergy member offered impassioned call for peace.
“It’s praying time. Oh God, now it’s praying time,” the clergy member shouted during the crescendo of the prayer. “We come to pray, oh God, that you will have your way. Lord, touch the heart of mother, touch the heart of every father touch the heart of sister, touch the heart of every brother. Give us strength right now in Jesus name we pray, amen.”
Speaking to reporters, Daniels said it’s tragic when anyone is shot outside or on a front porch. But the death of a young girl who is struck by a bullet while inside at a sleepover was beyond reproach, he said.
“When you go in [a] personal home and you are killed in [a] house, how damnable can that be?” he said. “That’s a bad indictment … There’s something wrong. It’s something systemic.”
“Children should have hope they should have dreams,” he said. “It’s bad enough for gangbangers to be shooting up each other — but when our babies are being killed, there’s something horrific about that.
He called on leaders at the federal and local level to enact gun control.
“This act of violence – people having handguns and destroying the lives of others – it doesn’t make sense,” Daniels said. “Something has to be done about this gun control.”
On Friday night, Shamiya and her pals were enjoying a slumber party inside an apartment on the West Side, getting ready to make smores.
And before they could put their marshmallows in the microwave, a shot rang out.
The bullet — fired by a gunman in the street outside Friday night — flew across a vacant, grassy lot, through an open window and then a wall, striking 11-year-old Shamiya in the head, authorities said.
And just like that, Adams became the latest in a long line of child murder victims caught in the crossfire of Chicago gun violence.
“Every time we have a child that gets killed, they have signs that say ‘Don’t shoot, I want to grow up,’ well they mean that,” Shamiya’s great-grandmother Lourene Miller said Saturday night as around 150 weeping mourners gathered to pray at the murder scene.
“They want to grow up, and they have a right to grow up without somebody shooting them down like that — it’s crazy.”
Police Saturday had made no arrests but believe the shooting was spurred by a gang-related, drug-trafficking dispute.
The gunman fired a weapon from either a vacant lot or a building just southeast of where Shamiya was having her sleepover, in the 3900 block of West Gladys Avenue in West Garfield Park, Harrison District Cmdr. Glenn Evans said.
Visibly upset by the murder of the innocent girl, Evans vowed his officers will find whoever killed her.
“We’re not going to give up on this,” he said. “We’re going to relentlessly see this through. I mean it.”
The shot through a slightly open window was “one of the most incredible shots I’ve ever seen,” he added as a dozen officers searched for shell casings.
Shamiya was the 33rd child victim of homicide in Chicago this year, adding her name to a depressingly long list that in recent years includes innocents such as Hadiya Pendleton and Jonylah Watkins.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who visited Shamiya’s family Saturday afternoon, said at an unrelated event Saturday that Chicago is “a better city than that . . . We’re a better people than that.”
More than 150 of Shamiya’s friends, family and neighbors gathered at the intersection of Springfield and Gladys Saturday to remember how she loved to dance and spend time with her family.
Shamiya has a twin brother and a 12-year-old brother and was prone to wait up for her mom just because she wanted to say “hi” before bed, her great-grandmother said.
The girl’s mother, Shaneetha Goodloe, rested her head on a relative’s shoulder and sobbed as people prayed for her baby.
Earlier Saturday, hours after Shamiya was pronounced dead at Mount Sinai Hospital, the parents who hosted the sleepover cried on their porch as they remembered the girl they considered a daughter.
“It’s senseless,” said Aaron Hill, whose daughter Sharonda was best friends with Shamiya. The girls were classmates at Melody Elementary School on their way to sixth grade.
Inside the house, Hill pointed to the small hole the errant and deadly bullet left in a bedroom closet.
On the other side of the closet, a blood stain marked the spot where Shamiya was sitting with her friends when she was hit, Hill said.
On the bed, the marshmallows, Capri Sun, chocolate and fruit snacks the girls had planned to feast on remained on the bed, untouched Saturday afternoon.
Shamiya’s cousin, Terrence Redmond, 32, said what everyone was thinking.
“If you can’t even be at home,” he said, “where can you be safe?”
Contributing: Maudlyne Ihejirika, Reema Amin and Luke Wilusz