Suspect arrested in shooting of 9-year-old boy
Janari Ricks was shot and killed Friday while playing in a vacant lot near the site of the former Cabrini-Green housing project. Police credited neighbors for their help in tracking down the suspect.
A suspect is in custody in the fatal shooting Friday of a 9-year-old boy who was playing on the Near North Side, police said Monday.
Janari Ricks was shot and killed Friday while playing in a vacant lot near the site of the former Cabrini-Green housing project.
CPD Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan told reporters Monday he’s confident charges against the suspect will be approved soon. He credited neighbors with helping officers locate the suspect quickly.
“We’re not in this position without the help of the community who came forward and gave us information which allowed us to identify and arrest the suspect,” Deenihan said.
Authorities said Janari was playing with friends in the rowhouses of the Cabrini-Green public housing complex in the 900 block of North Cambridge around 6 p.m. Friday when a gunman opened fire, fatally striking the boy in the chest. Chicago police said the boy was an unintended target.
The boy was taken to Lurie Children’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead an hour later.
Speaking to reporters Monday, local Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) said the suspected shooter and his intended target are both from the area originally, but neither lives there anymore. Burnett wouldn’t say what the men were doing in the neighborhood the night of the shooting, but he urged non-residents to stay out of the rowhouses.
“People, you don’t live there anymore. Stop coming over to the neighborhood and doing your dirt,” Burnett said. “Do dirt where you live, or don’t do dirt at all. But stop coming to the rowhouses and doing things. The people in the rowhouses are just trying to survive, just trying live, just trying to raise their families.
“The violence did not come from people who live in the rowhouses,” he added. “The violence came from people who come over to the rowhouses and do their dirt. We need to keep these people out of our neighborhood.”
CPD Supt. David Brown said Monday he would not be surprised if the suspect had a lengthy criminal background. But despite having access to the suspect’s arrest report, Brown declined to discuss the suspect’s criminal history until charges were approved.
Brown also said that the arrest in the case could serve as an example to other parts of the city where police and community relations are frayed.
“I would encourage those communities that don’t have a sense of trust [in the CPD] to look at this community as an example of how they can be made safer by bringing violent criminal offenders to justice, off the streets of Chicago, which makes their neighborhoods safer,” Brown said.
Wallace “Gator” Bradley and Andrew Holmes were among the community activists who met with residents in Cabrini-Green over the weekend to encourage them to give up the shooter. Someone even posted a photo of the suspect on social media in an effort to have him arrested.
Bradley, head of United in Peace and a former gang enforcer, said he’s been stressing that anyone who shoots a senior citizen, woman or child should be ostracized — something he calls “The Code.”
“We are not vigilantes, but these guys need to be brought to justice for what they’re doing,” he said, referring to the two dozen young children shot, five fatally, this year in Chicago.
By Saturday, a memorial had grown up along the same block where Janari had lived. Neighbors and friends brought two basketballs, a football and stuffed animals. Some lit candles; others tied balloons on a metal fence. Janari’s beloved hoverboard — a present on his last birthday — was placed on the ground in front of the memorial.
On Monday, Pastor Donovan Price added a white, wooden cross. It had been made by Greg Zanis before Zanis died earlier this year. Over more than 20 years, Zanis had made and delivered thousands of crosses for homicide victims in Chicago and elsewhere.
His mother, Jalisa Ford, said her son was a straight-A, “honor-roll” student entering fourth grade at Ruben Salazar Elementary School.
Contributing: Madeline Kenney, Manny Camarillo, Nader Issa.