Illinois baby dies after she and her father are shot
(CNN) — What kind of chance did little Jonylah Watkins of Chicago really have?
When her mother was pregnant with her, the woman was shot in the leg, news reports say.
And Monday, just six months into her life, looking up at her dad as he changed her diaper in a minivan, Jonylah was shot multiple times. It about was 1 in the afternoon as paramedics rushed the child to Corner Children’s Hospital.
Jonylah died Tuesday.
Police are looking for the killer, who jumped into a blue van after the shooting on the city’s South Side and drove away.
The shooter “was firing at the father, and exclusively at the father,” Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said.
He added that no one has come forward to help police.
“We don’t have one individual who’s stepping up to help us,” he said. “We don’t have cooperating witnesses.”
The father, Jonathan Watkins, is in serious condition at Northwestern Hospital, but he was able to give a brief phone interview to the Chicago Sun-Times.
“I was trying to help. I was trying to help. I was trying to help her,” he told a reporter shortly after learning that his baby had died from her wounds. “They told me she didn’t make it.”
Investigators are considering a variety of angles.
“We’re not dismissing this is any form as gang violence,” McCarthy told reporters Tuesday.
Patricia McGowan, who lives near the scene, told NBC Chicago that she was at a salon when shots rang out. “I just heard like a lot of shots and skid marks, so that’s when I ran to the corner,” she said.
“There is always gunshots and crime in the neighborhood, always drug activity in the neighborhood. … It’s heartbreaking,” she said. “We’re looking for a place to move out immediately because that could have easily been me coming from the bus.”
Baby Jonylah’s death is just the latest episode of gun violence in Chicago. There were 513 homicides in the city in 2012, a nearly 15% increase from 448 homicides in 2011.
Jonylah’s death follows the January high-profile shooting death of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old who was killed when a gunman opened fire on a group of young people on the South Side. Just days before she was killed, the teen performed in an event related to President Obama’s inauguration. Police said Pendleton was an innocent bystander.
“It’s never been a regular day in Chicago when it comes to our children dying this way,” said Diane Latiker, a Chicago mother of eight children who became a CNN Hero nominee for her work trying to keep kids away from violence.
“Hearing about this baby — I was so outraged. It just is so beyond,” she said. “I will stay outraged but the problem is that people in our community are not speaking up, they are not speaking at all. We are not vocal enough. We’re too silent.”