Family members of a 14-year-old boy killed by gun violence in Chicago were present at a peaceful protest on Tuesday night, calling for the young teen’s killers to come forward.
“Please turn yourself in,” Veronica Salis, the victim’s cousin, said. “I don’t know how you can sleep at night, knowing what you did to multiple children. It’s not fair.”
Dozens gathered at the playground near 61st and Carpenter, the spot where 14-year-old Varnado Jones was shot and killed while enjoying fireworks on the Fourth of July.
“He was on his way to Simeon,” aunt Wardlaw Williams said. “He didn’t even get a chance to step into the front door. He was our basketball star, and I told him ‘I’m waiting on my NBA tickets.’”
During the protest, family members asked Jones’ killer to come forward, saying that doing so would give a grieving family peace of mind.
“The best thing is for the people who did this to come forward, to give us the peace of mind we need,” Isiah Elliott, Jones’ cousin, said. “If they do come forward, it will show how much integrity they have, and how sorry they are for doing this.”
In Chicago’s South Austin neighborhood, another family is grieving after the shooting death of Natalie Wallace, who was playing in her front yard when she was shot to death.
“She was an angel, my baby,” her mother Michelle Rogers said. “She was very smart, and very intelligent. She meant the world to me.”
The girl’s father Nathan also spoke up, calling the killers heartless and saying he hopes that they brought to swift justice.
“People say it’s gang-related, but I call this coward-related,” he said. “There ain’t nothing gangster about this. There’s kinds out there and you still do this. You are heartless. I hope you get everything you get, wherever you are staying at, and I hope they lose you in the system.”
One of the four men accused in connection with Wallace’s death was in court Tuesday. The alleged getaway driver, Reginald Merill, was denied bail, but the family wants more: they want the gunman who pulled the trigger and killed their child.
“Where’s the person who actually shot them?” Rogers said. “That’s what I want to know.”
Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Chicago police. Tips can be left anonymously at cpdtip.org.