The man charged in the fatal shooting of 11-year-old Takiya Holmes was aiming at rival drug dealers, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Takiya was struck by a stray bullet to her right temple on the South Side Saturday night and died Tuesday morning at Comer Children’s Hospital.
At a news conference to discuss the first-degree murder charges against Antwan C. Jones, 19, police said he surrendered after he was identified by witnesses.
Jones was ordered held without bond by Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil.
Takiya was sitting next to her 3-year-old brother in the back seat of her family’s minivan — her mother and aunt were in the front seats — when gunfire erupted about 7:51 p.m. Saturday in the 6500 block of South King Drive.
Jones pulled the trigger of a loaded semi-automatic handgun from the inside of the Parkway Gardens apartment complex after he, joined by several Black Disciples gang members, went to confront three people they thought were selling marijuana in territory they controlled, Assistant State’s Attorney Jamie Santini said. Police said Jones is a known gang member.
Jones fired multiple times across South Martin Luther King Drive, Santini said, but missed his intended targets. Instead, one of his bullets entered a rear passenger side window of the van and struck Takiya, authorities said.
“Across the street, (Jones) saw three individuals he thought did not belong in the area and he chose to get a handgun…. He chose to shoot at these individuals. Obviously, we know now he didn’t hit any of them,” said Brendan Deenihan, commander of Area Central detectives.
The men Jones was aiming at were nowhere near the van, Deenihan said.
“These are handguns, and when the bullets start flying they go everywhere,” Deenihan said, adding that the Holmes family van had pulled up just seconds before the shooting. Nakeeia Williams, Takiya’s mother, had just parked outside a dry cleaning store where she worked, and planned to exchange cars with a co-worker when someone fired shots, Patsy Holmes said Sunday.
Jones ran back through the apartment complex after he fired. Surveillance footage shows him and his friends walking through Parkway Gardens, prosecutors said.
Police were able to identify Jones and witnesses from the recovered video, Santini said.
Detectives interviewed the witnesses seen on the video, and witnesses identified Jones, police said. Takiya’s cousin, Andrew Holmes, an anti-violence activist who was at court and the news conference with police, said he reached out to Parkway Gardens residents personally.
Takiya’s age was key to witnesses coming forward instead of remaining silent, police said. Andrew Holmes said the cash reward offered for information in the case did not motivate the witnesses who cooperated with the police.
“Everyone we talked to, it wasn’t about the money. They were not worried about money,” Holmes said.
After court, Holmes said Takiya’s death “hurts.”
“There’s a hole there,” he said. “That voice is not there. That smile is not there. Her dancing is not there.”
Holmes also expressed sympathy with Jones’ plight, saying, “He could have been saved if the right people had reached out to him and stopped him before he made that bad choice.”
Jones did not give a statement and requested a lawyer, police said.
Jones received probation for a 2013 theft as a juvenile, Santini said. He was charged last year with two counts of misdemeanor domestic battery and a single count of criminal damage to property, according to Cook County court records.
Jones, of the 8700 block of South Kimbark, was also charged last year with misdemeanor assault to a teacher, although the case was later dismissed when the victim failed to show up in court, according to court records.
“I hope it’s the correct person and I’m hoping justice is served,” Patsy Holmes, Takiya’s grandmother, said Wednesday morning. “If it’s the right person I want him to be punished to the fullest.”
Takiya was pronounced dead by doctors early Tuesday morning, but had been kept on life support about four hours so that her organs could be used for transplants, said Patsy Holmes, adding that she hoped a relative with a kidney problem would be a donor match.
Wednesday morning, Patsy Holmes was on her way to Comer Children’s Hospital where the family was preparing to donate Takiya’s organs. She said she learned about the arrest in the pre-dawn hours.
Takiya was one of two girls shot within 25 minutes of each other on Saturday night, and the other girl who was wounded, Kanari Gentry-Bowers, remained in critical condition and on life support at Stroger Hospital.
Rochetta Tyler, Kanari’s aunt, said there has been no change in the girl’s condition. She was on her way to visit Kanari Wednesday morning.
“We just pray to God for a miracle,” she said. “That would really be a miracle. Basically, we are just waiting.”
They were two of three children shot in the last four days; on Tuesday, 2-year-old Lavontay White was shot and killed while riding in a car with a 26-year-old man and 25-year-old woman.
The car was in the 2300 block of South Kenneth when another vehicle drove past and someone got out, pulled out a weapon and fired, authorities said.