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‘They were harmless, and that’s why it hurts.’ Family and friends hold vigil for people killed in mass shooting inside Englewood home

There had been a birthday party at the home in the hours before the shooting, which killed 4 people and wounded 4 others.

Friends and family release balloons at a vigil Wednesday in Englewood for victims of a mass shooting there earlier this week.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Ratanya Aryiel Rogers had spent the day with friends, celebrating her 28th birthday, and was waiting for a ride home when the gunfire started early Tuesday.

She and seven others inside the house in Englewood were methodically hunted down and shot, most of them in the head, one of them in the back, according to new details provided by Chicago police.

Rogers was killed, along with two other women and a man who lived in the home in the 6200 block of South Morgan Street. Friends say at least six children lost a parent in the attack, Chicago’s third mass shooting in little over a week.

Rogers was the mother of a young boy, according to Cameisha Jackson, who said she lives in Englewood and knew all four of the people who died.

“She was the life of the party, and she loved to dance,” Jackson said. “She was just a really sweet girl.”

From left, victims Shermetria Williams, Denice Mathis and Blake Lee. They were among eight people shot, four fatally, Tuesday morning in Englewood.
From left, victims Shermetria Williams, Denice Mathis and Blake Lee. They were among eight people shot, four fatally, Tuesday morning in Englewood.
Provided photos

The others who died were Denice Mathis, 32, a mother of four boys; Shermetria Williams, 19, the mother of a 2-year-old girl; and Blake Lee, 34, who lived in the home and did odd jobs in the neighborhood.

Police say someone broke into the home some time before 5:40 a.m. Tuesday and started shooting, according to police spokesman Steve Rusanov, who cited a preliminary report.

All but one victim was hit in the head, he said. The other victim was shot in the back.

Initially, police said the shooting broke out after an argument in the home. Police Supt. David Brown said there were two volleys of gunshots, hours apart, and that there were no signs of forced entry.

Authorities have reported no developments in the case and have not said whether anyone was in custody.

A memorial was set up Wednesday, June 16, 2021, in the front yard of a home where eight people were shot, four fatally, in the 6200 block of South Morgan Street.
A memorial was set up Wednesday, June 16, 2021, in the front yard of a home where eight people were shot, four fatally, in the 6200 block of South Morgan Street.
Anthony Vazquez/ Sun-Times

At a vigil outside the home Wednesday night, friends and family struggled to make sense of what happened.

“They were harmless, and that’s why it hurts, because if you knew them, you knew they were scared. You knew they were terrified,” Jackson said.

“What happened the other day really just shouldn’t have happened. Those people in that home didn’t deserve that,” said Robyn Eddmonds, a long-time friend of some of the victims. “That was a cruel person that did that, they didn’t have any morals.”

The Rev. Donovan Price erected four crosses outside the home as a memorial for the victims. A few hours later, dozens of family and friends gathered for the vigil.

Williams’ family spelled out “Shay Shay” and “Mia” in tealight candles on the sidewalk.

Three people embrace at a vigil to remember the four victims of a mass shooting at 6221 S. Morgan in Englewood Wednesday.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

“Heaven” by Beyonce, one of Williams’ favorite songs, blared from a car’s speakers as the group released at least 50 pink, white and silver balloons in the shape of stars.

Tears streamed down people’s faces as they recorded and watched the balloons drift away.

“This is so hard,” a woman sobbed as she walked away holding hands with a young girl. “This is a senseless murder.”