Chicago gunfire claims 2 children in a single day

Much of the bloodshed is tied to gang conflicts — often among rival factions battling block-by-block that often stoke emotions through social media taunts.

All three shootings in which innocent children became victims likely have links to gang conflicts, according to police sources.

Near 57th Street and Winchester Avenue, the scene of Kanari’s shooting, the “Winchester Boys,” a faction of the Gangster Disciples, has been feuding with several gangs, including the Vice Lords, Cobra Stones and Rubenite Stones, a distant offshoot of the Black P. Stones.

The stretch of King Drive where Takiya was shot is one of the city’s most active, constantly abuzz with activity. At 65th Street and King Drive, the scene of Takiya’s slaying, a faction of the Gangster Disciples has been battling with a faction of the Black Disciples.

The alley where the toddler was shot is in Lawndale, but in a quieter pocket of that notoriously dangerous neighborhood. Still, the 26-year-old who was shot was affiliated with Traveling Vice Lords, one of Chicago’s most historic and entrenched gangs, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.

One of two girls shot on South Side over weekend dies

One of two girls shot on South Side over weekend dies

Family members of 11-year-old Takiya Holmes speak to members of the media outside Comer Children’s Hospital after Takiya died Tuesday morning, Feb. 14, 2017, in Chicago. (Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune)

Family members of 11-year-old Takiya Holmes speak to members of the media outside Comer Children’s Hospital after Takiya died Tuesday morning, Feb. 14, 2017, in Chicago. (Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune)

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‘So helpless’

All day Tuesday, both of the girls’ families faced the gripping pain of the shootings, with Kanari’s family clinging to hope late into the evening and Takiya’s trying to accept the loss of a bubbly child.

Takiya never regained consciousness after she was hit in the head by a stray bullet while sitting in a parked car with her mother, aunt and younger brother in the Parkway Gardens neighborhood Saturday evening, her relatives said. They had stopped at a cleaners in the 6500 block of South King Drive around 8 p.m. to give a ride to a friend who worked with the mother.

Naikeeia Williams, Takiya’s mother, told everyone to duck when shots rang out. Only Takiya didn’t respond when the mother asked if everyone was OK.

Two days of agony played out for the family as the 5th grader was on life support at Comer Children’s Hospital.

“I feel so helpless,” Williams posted on Facebook around midnight Saturday. “I can’t do anything to help my baby and this is killing me watching her lay here.”

By Monday morning, Takiya’s condition had not changed, and relatives were fearing the worst.

“Takiya,” her mother posted around 6:25 a.m. “Mommy needs you to get up and give her 1 of those big hugs you give me and tell me it’s ok like u always do…. Baby i need u to be as strong as I know u can be… PLLLLLEEEEEAAAASSSSEEEEE…..”

Takiya died at 8:17 a.m. Tuesday, according to her family.

Patsy Holmes described her granddaughter as an “active, jovial child” with “eyes and dimples that will set your heart on fire.”

She was a student at Theophilus Schmid School, where her name was typically on the honor roll. She got upset when it wasn’t, her grandmother said.

Like any 11-year-old, her interests changed by the day. She enjoyed dancing and singing and at one point expressed interest in being a teacher. She also tried her luck in sports, joining a basketball team.

“She lived life, and she loved it,” Patsy Holmes said.

Holmes said she tried to instill homemaking skills in her only grandchild, who called her “Big Momma.” Every other weekend, when Takiya visited, they set out to make a different confection: cakes or pies or chocolate-covered strawberries.

“Last weekend, she made brownies, and they were really good,” Holmes said Sunday.

Holmes last saw Takiya on Friday when she dropped her off after school.

“She said, ‘Bye, Big Momma, I love you.’ I told her, ‘See you Monday.’”

“Our community has to come together to protect our children,” Holmes said. “Our children are innocent (and) getting caught by stray bullets. The other little girl who got shot, my prayers are going out to that family.”

A chaotic vigil

Kanari was shot about half an hour before Takiya while playing basketball with friends at Henderson Elementary School in the West Englewood neighborhood, police said.

Kanari’s family told reporters outside Stroger Hospital that on at least three occasions, paramedics and hospital staff couldn’t detect the girl’s heartbeat. She remained on life support Tuesday, and so far had not responded to her relatives, her family said.

“She’s a child, and she was gunned down on the streets of Chicago … over nothing at all,” Kanari’s grandmother, Patricia Donald-Bowers, said Monday. “Right now she’s my priority. … All I can do is focus on her.”

At a community event Monday evening, Henderson Principal Marvis Jackson-Ivy said shootings near the school are common. She said students could not leave school one day last fall to avoid walking past a crime scene. She said the school hires two officers every year so the kids can have recess outside.

“We’ve lost 50 students since September due to violence in the neighborhood,” she said. “They move to Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana — they moved out of the state.”

On Tuesday night, a vigil for Takiya at 65th Street and King Drive quickly devolved into chaos as indicted Ald. Willie Cochran took the microphone to address the crowd before the grieving family was allowed to speak.

“Power to the people! This vigil is for the family!” People shouted.

As Cochran continued on, members of Takiya’s family, holding balloons, flowers and stuffed animals, held a separate gathering nearby in a grassy area near a parking lot.

“Even if they were going to get into politics, they should have addressed Takiya first,” one relative said. “You’re going to address politics first instead of this little girl’s life? She’s 11 years old. She didn’t ask to be in the middle of this crossfire.”

Chicago Tribune’s Annie Sweeney, Jason Meisner, Gregory Pratt, Hal Dardick and Elyssa Cherney contributed.

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