Shooting That Killed Chicago Baby Had "Very Strong Gang Overtones": Police

The shooting that wounded Jonathan Watkins and killed his daughter Tuesday had "very strong gang overtones," Chicago's police Supt. Garry McCarthy told reporters.

By Emily Florez, Courtney Copenhagen, Phil Rogers and Anthony Ponce
|  Tuesday, Mar 12, 2013  |  Updated 5:26 PM CDT
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Father, 6-Month-Old Daughter Shot, Wounded

This photo of Johnylah Watkins was just captured Sunday, the family said.

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Father, 6-Month-Old Daughter Shot, Wounded

Johnylah Watkins's little body was wounded in five places from the shooting. Emily Florez reports.
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A 6-month-old baby has died after she was shot five times Monday while her father was changing her diaper, in a shooting Chicago's top cop said Tuesday was gang-related.

Johnylah Watkins passed away Tuesday morning, Chicago Pastor Corey Brooks confirmed.

Johnylah's father, identified by family members as 28-year-old Jonathan Watkins, was also shot and remains in serious but stable condition. He was the intended target, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said, in a shooting he characterized as having "very strong gang overtones."

Watkins was bent over the girl to change her on the front passenger seat of the family van when the shooting occurred, police said.

Johnylah and Watkins were both taken to hospitals in critical condition after shots rang out at about 12:45 p.m. Monday on South Maryland Avenue on Chicago's South Side. Watkins was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Johnylah was taken to Comer Children’s Hospital.

"The city of Chicago should be outraged that a 6-month-old baby could be shot and killed in our city," Brooks said. "It's horrific."

"This is another tragedy, because no child, certainly not an infant, should be a victim of gun violence," McCarthy said.

Brooks said the baby's mother is distraught and in a lot of pain. "We're going to find who did this and make sure they are brought to justice," he said. "We're not going to be afraid. We're going to take back our neighborhood."

Police were still looking for the shooter, described by McCarthy as a black male wearing dark clothing. He ran up from behind Watkins, fired, and then took off to a nearby blue conversion van, according to department spokesman John Mirabelli.

Bullets struck Jonathan Watkins in the buttocks and on the right side of his face. His young daughter was hit five times, in the thigh, shoulder, lung, liver and bowels, the family later said.

Witnesses reported hearing at least 10 gunshots.

"I just heard like a lot of shots and skid marks, so that's when I ran to the corner," said Patricia McGowan, who lives near the scene but was at a salon at the time gunfire rang out. "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."

Police said Watkins has known gang affiliations, and records show Jonathan Watkins has been arrested 39 times and has ties to the Gangster Disciples. Among the charges against him have been numerous weapons violations and an attempt to steal his car back from police after it was impounded.

 

Mary Young said her daughter, Judy Young, and Watkins were just recently married. Judy was grazed by a bullet in the knee about seven months ago, she said, while Johnylah was still in the womb.

Pastor Brooks late in the day offered a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the little girl's shooter. Brooks gained notoriety last year for camping out on the roof of a south side motel in an effort to raise money for a community center.

Earlier in the day, McCarthy touted progress in his department's efforts against crime. As of Monday, shooting incidents in the city are down 19 percent year-over-year, he said.

This is the baby's second brush with gun violence. Johnylah's family says her mother was shot in the leg when she was eight months pregnant.

 

 

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