Chicago Violence

Teen Killed in Shooting at Hadiya Pendleton Park

Police say the victim was not likely the intended target

A 17-year-old boy was shot to death Friday in a park named after Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old honors student at King College Prep in Chicago who was killed in a shooting in 2013.

The victim, identified as 17-year-old Vonzell Banks, was gunned down at about 4:45 p.m. in the 4300 block of South King Drive, right around the corner from Banks' Bronzeville home.

Banks was about to start his senior year of high school and was set to start a summer job on Monday, his family said. He was playing basketball in the park with his brother and friends when the gunfire broke out.

"He ended up playing his last game," Banks' brother, Vennie Ashford, said. "I couldn't even say goodbye to him."

The group of teenagers was standing near the corner of 44th and Calumet when someone randomly started shooting. Banks was hit in the back and killed, and a 19-year-old man was struck in the foot. The older teen was transported to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where his condition stabilized.

On Saturday, family, pastors and community members gathered to remember Banks, who they say devoted his life to music and the church.

"He was all about God," Ashford said. "He didn't want to do anything else but sing and play drums."

The park where Banks was killed was recently renamed after Pendleton, who was shot and killed at random while with friends at another South Side park. Pendleton's father, Nate Pendleton, said he hoped the park would stand for violence prevention, not be the setting for more senseless shootings.

"We need to take our streets back," Jeannette Banks-Dunlap, the victim's grandmother, said. "We are a family with hope, and we were taught that spirit was never born, so therefore it never dies. And his spirit will live on with us."

Copyright CHIST - SunTimes
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