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Girl, 7, begged witness to ‘help her daddy’ after he was gunned down: Prosecutors

Travell Miller was taking his daughter to school when Avonta Ware opened fire on Sept. 1, prosecutors said.

Travell Millee
Travell Miller, 33, was shot multiple times on Sept. 1.
Provided

A 7-year-old girl who was with her father when he was murdered by a teenage gunman begged a bystander to “help her daddy” following the West Side shooting, Cook County prosecutors said Wednesday.

Travell Miller was taking his daughter to school when Avonta Ware killed him on the morning of Sept. 1, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said.

Miller, 33, shielded his daughter as Ware fired into the driver’s side window of Miller’s Kia Soul, Murphy said. The girl was not injured. She cried in the SUV’s passenger seat as a witness to the shooting rushed over, Murphy said.

There appeared to be no prior connection between 18-year-old Ware and Miller, except that both men had stopped at the same gas station at Chicago and Kedzie avenues before the fatal shooting, Murphy said.

Ware, who is no stranger to the criminal justice system, was arrested for Miller’s murder earlier this week in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Murphy said.

He was also wanted for two separate carjackings in Berwyn, Murphy said.

Avonta Ware
Avonta Ware
Cook County sheriff’s office

Before he was shot that fall morning, Miller went to fill up his SUV at the gas station, Murphy said.

Ware, surveillance cameras showed, also pulled up to a gas pump in his grandfather’s Pontiac Grand Prix, Murphy said.

The men didn’t appear to exchange words, and when Miller had finished refueling, he got back inside the SUV and continued driving toward his daughter’s school.

But less than a minute later, Ware sped away from the gas station’s parking lot and followed Miller, eventually driving into the wrong lane to catch up to him, Murphy said.

Ware stopped his car near where Miller was waiting in traffic and was seen by a several witnesses getting out of his car with a black handgun, Murphy said. He then went up to Miller’s SUV before allegedly opening fire.

Miller was struck in the chest multiple times, Murphy said.

After the shooting, Ware walked back to his car and drove away, Murphy said.

A Cook County sheriff’s officer who also witnessed the shooting identified Ware in a photo array and descriptions of Ware’s clothing and vehicle by other witnesses led police to the gas station surveillance footage, Murphy said. The surveillance footage also included a “clear video” of Ware wearing a mask inside the station, Murphy said.

When police released photographs from the surveillance footage they received multiple tips identifying Ware by his nickname, Murphy said.

Just days before on Aug. 26, a woman said she was driving in the 1200 block of North Kedzie Avenue when she honked at a silver Grand Prix that cut her off in traffic, Murphy said. The woman later identified Ware as the person who later leaned his body out of the Grand Prix and pointed a handgun at her, Murphy said. The incident was also recorded by the woman’s dash-mounted camera, Murphy said.

Ware was also identified in photo arrays as the suspect who carjacked a Berwyn man as he loaded items into his car on July 27, Murphy said. He was also identified as the suspect who carjacked a woman as she was getting groceries in the west suburb on Aug. 1, Murphy said.

As a juvenile, Ware was found delinquent in three separate robberies, Murphy said.

Ware works as a mechanic and lives with his grandfather and mother in the city, his attorney John Somerville told Judge Barbara Dawkins.

Dawkins ordered Ware held without bail Wednesday.

Ware is expected back in court Dec. 13.