An 8-year-old girl fatally shot while riding in a car with family members over the holiday weekend was the unintended target of a gang shooting, police said Tuesday.
“We don’t have a definitive motive, but there’s an ongoing gang conflict in the area and it’s possible other people in this vehicle were the targets, obviously the 8-year-old was not, but it doesn’t appear that it was a random act,” Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said at a news conference.
The slain girl, Dajore Wilson, is the sixth child 10 or younger to be murdered in Chicago since late June, according to data maintained by the Chicago Sun-Times.
The girl was in a vehicle with family members — two of whom were also wounded — when a person in another vehicle opened fire Monday night in Canaryville.
“Getting notified of another child being a victim of gun violence is one of the most painful experiences, not only as a law enforcement professional but also as a parent,” Police Supt. David Brown said.
“These young people, these children, are not the targets. The people who they’re with, the adults, are the targets. And more often than not, we’re talking about targeted in relation to gang conflicts,” Brown said.
Despite a holiday weekend that police said included 51 shooting victims, eight shooting deaths and two stabbing deaths, Brown said the city has made some headway in stemming violence since he implemented several policing changes.
“Seven weeks of the reorganization that I put in place under my tenure has resulted in a 50% reduction in murders and an 18% reduction in shootings,” Brown said.
Despite the drop in violence in recent weeks, Chicago has seen an overall 50% jump in murders this year through August compared to 2019.
“It’s fragile, obviously, but we’re seeing tenuous progress,” he said.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot, however, argued CPD has made “tremendous progress,” particularly when you consider “where we’ve been over the last six or seven months.”
Early in the pandemic, Lightfoot blamed the surge in homicides and shootings on the fact that the rest of what she calls the law enforcement “eco-system” — the courts, the prosecutors, the jail and community-based organizations — had pretty much shut down.
Now, the CPD’s “partners in crime” are “coming back,” the mayor said. So some credit belongs to them.
“All parts of that system, which were dramatically impacted by COVID-19 — every facet of it — covid 19 are now coming back. That, in addition to the new strategy that the superintendent and his team have employed, are why we’re seeing progress on our fight against violent crime,” she said.
Lightfoot said the only missing partner is the federal government — at least when it comes to what she calls “common-sense gun control.” However, the mayor failed to mention the infusion of dozens of federal prosecutors in Chicago tied to Operation Legend.
“If we don’t’ have a restriction on assault weapons, if we don’t empower the ATF to be able to regulate federally-funded gun dealers — all those things that we know really contribute to the amount of guns on our streets — that is something the fed government is uniquely qualified to do,” the mayor said.
“I sent a letter to the President back in July laying out the things that I felt the federal government could help with. Still waiting to hear from him. But we’re gonna keep fighting the fight here in Chicago and I’m pleased to say we’re abs making progress.”
Brown also said charges were likely to be announced later Tuesday against a suspect who’s in custody after the stabbing death Sunday of a Walgreens employee in Wicker Park.