On Thursday, I asked Chicagoans to open their hearts for Devon Quinn, the 3-year-old boy who was paralyzed when someone shot up the car where he was sitting with his father.
It happened on Father’s Day. Devon was going with his father, Desmond Bell, 23, to pick up the boy’s mother from work. Desean Wynn, 23, was later arrested and charged with crimes including attempted first-degree murder and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon.
After the column appeared, 249 people donated nearly $17,000 in 24 hours to help this family through a GoFundMe fund-raising site.
Readers who couldn’t access the site called me to find out how they could give.
Despite our differences, Chicagoans have always rallied to help parents in the aftermath of gun violence. Still, the outpouring of concern for Devon has been overwhelming.
“I would like to thank God first and foremost,” said Dominique Quinn, Devon’s mother. “And I just would like to say to everyone that donated to my baby that I am so grateful.
“You know how the world is, and you would not think that so many people care or have a heart.
“Honestly, I would give it all back for my baby to be OK. But I appreciate everything that was done.”
Not all of the feedback has been positive. Some readers emailed to take me to task.
“No mention of gang involvement in your article?” one man wrote, describing himself as a “southern resident.” “It’s like writing a sports column and leaving the score out of it. Reach out to the gangs for their money. They have expensive guns, shoes, jewelry, drugs and so on. I will gladly help this boy out, but if his father’s involved in gangs, than he should get a bullet in his spine. Please report more than the sad child story. It’s the direct result of the family, as most of these innocent victims are.”
His point seems to be that if Devon’s father’s involved in a gang, we shouldn’t care that his son was paralyzed in a shooting.
This is one of the rare instances when I didn’t ask whether the father has any gang affiliation. I didn’t even want to know.
What mattered most was that, as Chicagoans, we showed our humanity in this situation.
It doesn’t matter whether that child came from a good home or a bad one, from the North Side or the South Side, from Ivy League parents or high school dropouts.
He didn’t get to choose the household he lives in or the neighborhood where he’s growing up.
Obviously, the chances of a child being shot in a gang-related shooting are greatly reduced if that child isn’t growing up around gangs.
But several weeks ago a 6-year-old girl was shot and wounded in Logan Square while she was drawing with chalk on a sidewalk. The girl apparently got caught in gang crossfire.
Last week, 4-year-old Kavan Collins was shot in the jaw while he was walking with his mother and brother to the Parkway Gardens housing complex on the South Side. The shooter fired into a crowd, hitting Kavan and also wounding a 28-year-old woman lying in bed.
Is “gang-related” now the litmus test for how we are to respond to the youngest victims of this insane gun violence?
Thankfully, your generous donations show that’s not the case.
If it turns out Devon’s father has gang ties, my hope is that the love strangers have shown his son will redirect his path.