After relocating to Texas as the pandemic wore on, Rayneesha Dotson decided to return home to the South Side for a visit.
With her trip winding down this past weekend, Dotson’s aunt said she decided to spend her last days in Chicago “enjoying her friends” as she prepared to head back to the Houston area Tuesday.
But a night out quickly turned tragic early Sunday, when gunfire erupted at a makeshift nightclub at 6798 S. South Chicago Ave., striking Dotson and 14 others.
Dotson, 30, suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Chicago police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office. Lionel Darling, 39, was also killed.
“For her to go out like that, it just makes you sick to your stomach. She needs justice, and her voice needs to be heard,” Dotson’s aunt, Beverly Grinnage, said in an interview. “She’s not here, but I see her face and her name. And that’s all I see on TV.
“Nobody’s saying this was a loving, caring sister [and] auntie. She was a wonderful granddaughter to her grandparents before they passed on. So she is someone besides that face that everyone sees that got killed.”
After watching videos of the chaotic scene that transpired after the shooting, Grinnage said it was a “shame” the response to the mass shooting wasn’t swifter. After all, she noted, there’s both police and fire stations nearby.
“I don’t know maybe she would have survived. Maybe she wouldn’t have survived due to her gunshot wounds,” said Grinnage. “But we would never know because she didn’t get the help.”
Grinnage said her niece moved to Texas three or four months ago, hoping to “do better.”
Dotson’s aunt remembered her as a compassionate soul who made her own music and aspired to become a successful rapper. Above all though, Grinnage said Dotson “always loved to be around her family.”
“Regardless if we had arguments, she still wanted us to be a family,” Grinnage said. “She made sure she was at every function, every family gathering — just there with a big smile. If you see Rayneesha, you’ll see this big old smile. And she’s hugging you and telling you how much she loves you.”
Grinnage likened Dotson’s death to “losing a kid,” noting that she helped raise her along with her own children. She has now set up a GoFundMe campaign to help finance her niece’s funeral services, one of two such pages that have appeared on the crowdfunding site in recent days.
Days after the mass shooting claimed Dotson’s life, Grinnage said she still has no indication of what really happened at the after-hours spot set up inside a nondescript garage known for housing illegal businesses. On Tuesday, a police spokesman said no arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing.
“She wasn’t out here harming anyone. And for her to be out enjoying herself to get gunned down like that I think is just outrageous,” said Grinnage. “And I think she has a voice, and we are her voice.”