More than three dozen juveniles have been shot and killed in violence in Chicago so far this year, the city's police superintendent revealed Monday.
The heartbreaking total comes after a weekend that saw two additional juveniles killed, including a 9-year-old boy who became the unintended target of a shooting while playing outside with friends and a 17-year-old activist who was found shot to death on a city sidewalk.
The pair were among nine people killed in weekend violence across Chicago. Another 27 were wounded in the shootings. The number marked the lowest number of weekend shooting victims in recent weeks.
"But none of this matters," Brown said. "None of it matters when a child loses his or her life."
Police said Monday a suspect was in custody in connection with the fatal shooting of 9-year-old Janari Ricks in the city's Cabrini-Green neighborhood.
According to authorities, Janari was standing in a parking lot in the 900 block of North Cambridge at approximately 6:45 p.m. Friday when a person began firing shots. Janari, who police said was not the intended target, was hit in the chest and taken to Lurie Children’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The boy’s mother Jalisa Ford spoke to reporters on Saturday, saying that her son was playing with a friend when he was shot.
“I just got the call that he was laying out there, and I immediately came out here and I watched everything, every moment,” she said. “Now I’m burying my son. I gotta re-live this all over again. He’s all I had. I don’t have anybody. My son is gone.”
Brown said Janari became the 38th juvenile murdered in gun violence in Chicago in the first seven months of 2020. Of those 38, five were under the age of 10.
"A bright, beloved, athletic, soon-to-be fourth grader who loved math and basketball was just 9 years old when he was shot and killed while doing what every child in our city should be able to do without a second thought," Brown said Monday.
Seventeen-year-old Caleb Reed was also identified among the shooting victims over the weekend. Reed was a "freedom fighter" with the group Good Kids Mad City, which had been calling for the removal of police officers from Chicago Public Schools.
He was found on a sidewalk Friday afternoon with a gunshot wound to the head in the 1900 block of West Granville. No one was in custody as of Monday morning.
"This tragedy is traumatizing & heartbreaking," Good Kids Mad City wrote on Twitter. "We can honor him by continuing the call to end [gun violence] & get students resources for healing."
Ald. Andrew Vasquez tweeted that Reed "was a light in our community that was extinguished too soon."
Janari and Reed's deaths mark the latest summer weekend to see multiple children fall victim to gun violence in Chicago.
“When a 9-year-old’s life is ended by a bullet, we must all be outraged,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot tweeted over the weekend. “These deaths are not mere statistics, and prayers alone will not soothe a broken heart. How many more families must be torn apart? How many more communities need to be traumatized? How many more children have to die? We’ve had to write these words far too many times just this summer alone.”
Over the Fourth of July weekend, at least 12 shooting victims were minors and two of them died from their injuries, according to police. Among them was 14-year-old Varnado Jones, who was shot and killed while enjoying fireworks, and 7-year-old Natalie Wallace, who was playing in her front yard when she was shot to death.
In late June, 10-year-old Lina Nunez was shot and killed while sitting on her family’s couch in the Logan Square neighborhood. Nunez was struck in the head by a stray bullet after a gunfight erupted outside on the 3500 block of West Dickens, according to police.
That same day, 1-year-old Sincere Gaston was also shot and killed in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. According to police, Gaston and his mother were riding in a car around 2 p.m. when a car pulled up alongside their vehicle and a person inside began shooting, ultimately firing at least seven shots.
Also in June, 3-year-old Mekhi James was fatally shot while riding in a car in the city's Austin neighborhood, authorities said. Mekhi was one of four children killed over a violent Father's Day weekend.
"We cannot allow this to be normalized in this city," Brown said last month. "We cannot get used to hearing about children being gunned down in Chicago every weekend."