SLAIN–Baby Jonylah Watkins was shot five times Monday, March 11 on the South Side of Chicago. She died the next day of her wounds.
(RTNS)—A 6-month old girl became the latest innocent victim of Chicago gang violence when a gunman ambushed her father while he was changing her diaper along a South Side street and unloaded round after round into the two of them.
Jonylah Watkins died at a hospital Tuesday after surgeons did what they could to repair the damage from the five bullets that tore through her body during Monday’s attack in Woodlawn. Her father, Jonathan Watkins, was in serious but stable condition Tuesday after receiving treatment for wounds to his buttocks and side and a graze to his face, police said.
Police say that Watkins is cooperating in the investigation into who shot him and his infant daughter.
Bullets struck Watkins in the side and buttocks, and he suffered a graze wound to his face when he was ambushed in the Woodlawn community where he was visiting. He is recovering from his wounds at Northwestern Hospital. His 6-month-old daughter, Jonylah, died Tuesday after being shot in the thigh, shoulder, lung, liver and bowels, the family said.
Rev. Corey Brooks, pastor of New Beginnings Church and a spokesman for the family, said Jonylah simply had “too much bleeding.” The baby’s funeral is scheduled to be held March 19 at his church, located at 67th Street and King Drive.
Police called Monday’s shooting gang-related and said that Jonathan was the intended target. His family denies that the father is in a gang.
Jonathan Watkins is a gang member with a long criminal history — including a three-year prison sentence on a weapons charge— and there is little doubt he was the target of the attack, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said at a news conference Tuesday hours after the infant died. Watkins was standing in his car door changing his daughter’s diaper around lunchtime when the gunman approached and opened fire.
“He was obviously targeted,” McCarthy said. “It was very clear that whoever was doing this was firing at the father and exclusively at the father who happened to be sitting in a minivan with the child.”
Police said they were scouring the area where the attack happened for security camera footage or any other clues as to who carried out the attack.
Witnesses said the gunman approached Jonathan Watkins at around 1 p.m. and opened fire on him while he was standing beside his minivan and changing his daughter’s diaper. She was on the front seat.
It wasn’t the family’s first brush with Chicago’s gun violence. The girl’s mother, Judy Watkins, was shot in the knee while she was pregnant with Jonylah, according to the woman’s mother, Mary Young.
“There’s too much shooting over there,” Young told reporters Monday. Speaking of her granddaughter, she added, “She’s nothing but 6 months old. How could anybody — what kind of heart?”
Chicago has seen a recent rise in gun violence — much of it gang-related — and registered at least 500 homicides last year for the first time since 2008. In 2011, there were 435 homicides.
On Tuesday, a day after the superintendent reported that the number of homicides were down 26 percent this year compared to the same period last year, McCarthy acknowledged that the infant’s shooting makes it “hard to see the progress” and is a sobering reminder that “we have a lot of work to do.”
There were two piles of window glass Tuesday where the bullet-riddled van was parked a day earlier. There was also a makeshift memorial to the girl typical after such tragedies that included a couple of stuffed animals, a giftwrapped box and a helium-filled balloon with the words “Love Ya” on it.
Associated Press Writers Don Babwin and Carla K. Johnson contributed to this report.