The child, Jonylah Watkins, was only 6 months old. Her father, 25, was in the process of doing a normal parental chore, changing her diaper. But a hail of bullets would cut the exercise short, leaving the baby dead, shot five times, the father shot twice and left for dead.
Now the Chicago police hunt for the baby's killer...
ABC News reported Wednesday, March 12, that Jonathan Watkins was in critical condition at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, the victim of yet more gun violence on Chicago's mean streets. According to police, Watkins had been the target in a gang-related incident. Police chief Garry McCarthy revealed that Watkins underwent several surgeries and was critical but stable.
"This is another tragedy, because no child, certainly not an infant, should be a victim of gang violence," McCarthy said at a press conference. "Although there are a lot of angles that we're pursuing, there are very strong gang overtones to this particular event."
Police say that the unknown gunman simply walked up, shot Watkins and his child, and ran back to a waiting vehicle. At present, there are few leads as to the identity of the gunman or his whereabouts.
Jonylah Watkins has become another tragic marker in Chicago's escalating gang wars, another statistic of gun violence in a city that has become synonymous with gun deaths.
Gang warfare has set Chicago on a path to a record-breaking homicide rate for 2013. Although official figures haven't been announced, Chicago recorded over 500 homicides in 2012. In 2011, there were 435.
McCarthy announced Monday that police had confiscated over 1,300 illegal guns in the city in the first ten weeks of this year. He acknowledged there was still a lot to do to make Chicago a safer place.
The unfortunate cases of what are commonly referred to as "collateral damage," like 6-month-old Jonylah Watkins, highlights the overall senselessness of the shooting incidents. For some territorial slight or perceived disparagement in some gang dispute, a child died. Bad enough that full-grown and supposedly mentally competent adults are constantly shooting each other for a myriad reasons, but the killing of innocents speaks to the unfairness of it all, the arbitrariness with which a mindless piece of lead can carry out its mission, even if it be carried out against an unintended target.
"She's six months old. For a person to do that, what kind of heart?" Jonylah's grandmother, Mary Young, told WLS in Chicago.
The Associated Press reported in December following the Sandy Hook school shooting that saw 20 children killed by a lone gunman that, according to the FBI's most recent Uniform Crime Reports, 561 children under the age of 12 were killed by guns in the five-year period between 2006 and 2010. Those statistics do not reflect deaths ruled accidental.