Three days in Chicago: three kids shot, two killed

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Police stand near a car in an alley between Kostner and Kenneth avenues while investigating a fatal shooting in North Lawndale. | Andy Grimm/Sun-Times

Three children were shot in Chicago in less than three days — two fatally — with the third still in critical condition with a gunshot wound to her head.

None was old enough to attend high school. One was three years away from starting kindergarten. All were unintended targets.

Coming on the heels of the most violent year since the mid-90s, Chicago’s 2017 gun violence stats have held steady, with more than 70 homicides in the first 45 days of the year, according to records from police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Three child victims in less than a week, though, is an uncommonly high number.

“One victim of one shooting is one too many, but when innocent children are caught in the crossfire of gun violence and young people have their childhood stolen by stray bullets, our consciences are shaken and our hearts are broken,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in an emailed statement Tuesday.

Lavontay White | Photo courtesy of Ch. 32

Lavontay White | Photo courtesy of Ch. 32

About 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, 2-year-old Lavontay White, a 26-year-old man and 25-year-old woman were in a car in the 2300 block of South Kenneth when another vehicle drove past and someone got out, pulled out a weapon and fired shots, authorities said.

The toddler and man, 26-year-old Lazarec Collins, were both shot in the head and the 25-year-old woman — Lavontay’s pregnant aunt — was shot in the abdomen, police said. Collins and Lavontay were taken to Stroger Hospital, where they died. The woman was taken to Mount Sinai in fair condition.

In the minutes leading up to the shooting, the woman was live-streaming a video to Facebook, in which she and the man, seated in the front, were listening to Chicago rappers Lil Durk and Chief Keef.

The woman’s cheery demeanor changes as she peers outside the car and to her left, shortly before the crack of a gunshot. The woman tumbles out the door of the car and sprints through a lot, an alley, and through a doorway, screaming for help.

The woman bolts into a house, and the screen goes dark, but the audio continues. The woman says she’s been shot in the stomach, but doesn’t want to go to the hospital.

“I can’t go to the hospital,” she says. “They’ll send me to jail.”

Addressing reporters at the crime scene, Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said: “We just cannot afford to have our children shot down for something they had no involvement in.”

As of 8 p.m., Lavontay and the man were two of the five people killed in Chicago on Valentine’s Day 2017. From 2001 to 2015, a total of 11 people were killed in Chicago on Valentine’s Day, according to city records. In 2016, there were four.

Two girls, 11 and 12 years old, were shot — one fatally — within 30 minutes and 5 miles of each other Saturday night on the South Side. Takiya Holmes — the 11-year-old cousin of Chicago anti-violence activist Andrew Holmes — died Tuesday.

Kamari Gentry-Bowers is still in critical condition, authorities said.

Takiya was sitting next to her 3-year-old brother in the back seat — her mother and aunt were in the front seats — when gunfire erupted about 7:40 p.m. Saturday in the 6500 block of South King Drive in the Parkway Gardens neighborhood.

Takiya’s mother was parked outside a dry cleaning store, where she worked, and planned to exchange cars with a co-worker when someone fired shots, said Patsy Holmes, Takiya’s grandmother.

The girl was pronounced dead by doctors early Tuesday, but remained on life support so her organs could be used for transplants, Holmes said, adding that she hoped a relative with a kidney problem would be a donor match.

Andrew Holmes, a frequent presence at crime scenes across the city, called on anyone with information about the shooting to come forward to police.

“The damage has been done,” he said. “We just want them to step up, turn someone in. The key to this is the community. We got to stop pointing fingers . . . because the killers came out of that community.”

Kanari, 12, was shot while she was outside playing with friends about 7:15 p.m. Saturday at Henderson Elementary School in the 1900 block of West 57th Street in West Englewood.

A tearful Rochetta Tyler, Kanari’s aunt, was on the way to the hospital to visit the girl Tuesday morning.

“Kanari is still fighting for her life,” said Tyler, who also had heard the news about Takiya’s passing.

Patsy Holmes said she had prayed for Kanari.

“Hopefully, she can pull through,” she said.

Takiya and Kanari were among 33 people shot — five fatally — across Chicago last weekend.

Contributing: Stefano Esposito and Mitch Dudek

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