“A line was crossed,” the pastor of a Chicago church spoke out after the city had its most violent weekend this year with 14 people, including a 3-year-old girl, killed and more than 100 shot.
“This is a horrific Father’s Day. This 3-year-old baby lost his life,” the Rev. Ira Acree of Greater St. John Bible Church told a group of local residents who had gathered at Chicago’s North Central Avenue Sunday afternoon to denounce the shootings, according to Chicago Tribune. “I could not pastor this community and not say something.”
The crowd comprised of neighbors of 3-year-old Mekhi James, who had been shot dead in the violent spree.
The pastor referred to protests against police brutality over the death of George Floyd. He expressed concerns about the safety of the city’s black youth. “We say black lives matter, but we’re here to say black baby lives matter more,” he was quoted as saying.
Acree announced that his church will set a $2,500 reward for any information that could lead to the arrest of the person who shot the baby.
A police source was quoted as saying that the baby’s father may have been the intended target of the shooting.
At least 102 people were shot, 14 fatally, in separate incidents across the city from Friday evening to Monday morning, Chicago Sun-Times reported.
In one incident, a 13-year-old girl was shot while she was inside a home at North LeClaire Avenue, according to Sun-Times Media. She was struck in the neck and pronounced dead at Stroger Hospital.
Two boys, 15 and 16, were also shot while walking in an alley a little after midnight in the West Superior Street area.
Two more teenage boys, ages 16 and 17, were killed in a shooting at South Luella Avenue in South Chicago, CBS Local reported. The boys were in an alley when a man walked up, took out a gun and shot both of them.
“These individuals were with their friend. They’d just gone to a mall. They know the neighborhood. They don’t ever go out to the neighborhood because it’s so dangerous,” Chicago Police Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said.
Police released images of the suspect in the South Luella Avenue shooting, saying the gunman was wearing a black Puma hooded sweatshirt and ripped faded jeans. He was wearing one shoe on the left foot and a black sock on his seemingly injured right foot.
“Bullets don’t just tear apart the things they strike,” Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said at a press conference Sunday. “Bullets also tear apart families. Bullets destroy neighborhoods, and they ruin any sense of safety in a community.
“I put myself in that house, holding that little girl as she struggles to breathe. I put myself in that hospital, clutching a baby with a bullet hole. Tears are a natural reaction to these tragic stories of violence. But we need to do more than just cry. Let’s keep violent offenders in jail longer. And let’s revamp the home monitoring program. It’s not working.”
In Chicago, at least 239 people have been killed this year, according to the Tribune.