Wednesday, March 13, 2013
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -
City Council will consider stricter gun laws in Chicago on Wednesday, one day after a 6-month-old baby girl was shot five times while her father changed her diaper – she did not survive.
Jonylah Watkins' father, Jonathan, was changing her in their parked minivan near 65th and Maryland on Monday afternoon. He was also shot multiple times.
Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said in a press conference Tuesday that Jonathan Watkins is most likely the intended target. McCarthy acknowledged the father has an extensive criminal history, and a police source said Watkins has more than 30 prior arrests.
Police sources told FOX 32 News that he also has gang ties. They have stepped up presence in Woodlawn, in case of retaliation.
Community leader Pastor Corey Brooks spoke on behalf of the baby's mother and family outside the hospital Tuesday, and initially offered a reward of $5,000 for information leading to an arrest. That amount has since gone up to $15,000 thanks to other contributions.
Mayor Emanuel, McCarthy and community leaders all said it's a priority to find the gunman who shot and killed Jonylah, and her death is likely to come up as they discuss a new ordinance that would crack down on offenders who use guns to commit violent crimes.
Police said they need a cooperating witness, and they don't have much to go on at this point. Police also said they have video of what they believe is a getaway van.
They have yet to determine if the father is cooperating, since he is still being treated in the hospital and is not in the best physical condition. Watkins was distraught when told of his baby's death.
Doctors and surgeons worked for hours to try to save his infant daughter. Police said the baby was shot through the arm and leg. Jonathan Watkins, 29, was seriously injured after suffering gunshot wounds to in the side and buttocks. He also suffered a graze wound to his cheek.
Chicago Bull Derrick Rose is reportedly helping with the funeral costs, along with contributions from others in the community.
Emanuel said everyone should be outraged by this baby girl's death.
"A senseless, despicable act of violence like this that is just heartbreaking to any adult," the mayor said. "I will not rest. I don't think anyone in the city of Chicago - regardless of who you are, regardless of your role as an adult - everybody has a role to play to make sure every child is in a safe city, in a safe neighborhood, a safe community and on a safe street like other parts of our city."
The emotional reaction the city has seen with regard to this incident is overwhelming, and local leaders hope Jonylah's story might be the tipping point for the community - the push it needs to incite change and begin to form a new culture that pushes back against violence, and does not protect those who incite it.