Kanari Gentry-Bowers, the 12-year-old who was struck by a stray bullet as she played at her school playground on Saturday night, died Wednesday after four days on life support at Stroger Hospital.
The girl’s father and aunt, along with crisis responder Dawn Valenti, spoke to reporters outside the hospital a few hours after Kanari was pronounced dead.
Her father, Justin Bowers, somberly pleaded for anyone with information on the shooting to come forward.
“I just want justice for my daughter. That’s all I’m asking,” Bowers said. “Stop holding this punk. Turn him in, please. Just turn him in. That’s all I’m asking.”
“Kanari Gentry Bowers passed away this afternoon,” the family said in a statement released by Stroger Hospital. “We are appreciative of all of the thoughts and prayers we have received in the past several days. Please keep your children close and do whatever it takes to protect them from the senseless gun violence in our city.”
Kanari was on the basketball court at Henderson Elementary, on the corner of 57th and Wolcott around 7 p.m. Saturday when gunshots rang out.
She was struck in the head, and family members said in the ensuing hours, emergency responders and doctors revived her at least three times after her pulse all but disappeared.
“This baby was 12 years old. Twelve. Still in grammar school. All she liked to do was play, dance, just have fun, and she just lost her life like that,” Kanari’s aunt, Rochetta Tyler, said outside the hospital.
Valenti said the girl was pronounced dead at 3:38 p.m. after doctors found no more brain activity.
“We cannot continue to go this route,” Valenti said. “The president said he was going to send in the feds if we couldn’t get this under control, I say send ’em in. A lot of people are going to be angry at my statement, but who else is going to help us?”
Speaking on the effects of the state’s budget impasse earlier in the day, Mayor Rahm Emanuel — who has been in contact with Kanari’s family — again said he’d welcome federal resources.
“I would like Washington to stand up and send in the resources — not just the FBI and DEA and AFT, which I would welcome — but send in the resources that include funding ex-offender programs, after-school programs, summer jobs programs, all the things that have been cut.
Kanari was one of three children under 13 killed in the city by gunfire in the last four days, a number that includes Takiya Holmes, who was wounded by a stray bullet about an hour after Kanari was shot.
Takiya was taken off life support and died Tuesday at Comer Children’s Hospital, a day before Antwan C. Jones, 19, was charged with first-degree murder. Prosecutors say Jones had opened fire on a group near the Parkway Gardens apartments, and a stray bullet struck Takiya inside a van she was riding in with her mother and siblings.
Two-year-old Lavontay White was shot and killed along with his uncle, Lezarek Collins, Tuesday in an apparent ambush attack that also wounded the toddler’s pregnant aunt. The child’s aunt had been streaming video on Facebook Live when an unknown attacker opened fire on the car, firing at least 14 shots. The 20-year-old aunt sprinted away from the car and survived, but she was shot in the stomach.
Family members have said Kanari was a vivacious child. Henderson Principal Marvita Jackson-Ivy recalled that the girl had announced to her classmates that she planned to become a judge just a few days before she was shot. Students at the West Englewood school spent Monday morning making an enormous get-well card for Kanari, and talking to counselors. Despite warm temperatures this week, Jackson-Ivy said she has not allowed outdoor recess yet.
“It’s just too much outside right now,” she said. “The children are worried. We have a big gym on the fourth floor.”
Valenti said the flurry of deaths has been chilling.
“I’ve been tweeting [President Donald] Trump to send in the feds,” she said Wednesday. “We can’t continue like this. Too many babies are dead just in the last few days.”
Contributing: Matthew Hendrickson