A Chicago pastor is decrying the violence in the Midwestern city following the shooting death of a 7-year-old girl and the deaths of 14 others who were killed over the holiday weekend.
Corey Brooks, who founded New Beginnings Church on South King Drive in Chicago, said in a Monday “Fox & Friends” interview that the violence has to be stopped and something must be done immediately as dozens of people are being shot at every weekend in Chicago.
“We cannot continue to go down this road,” said Brooks, who also serves as the executive director of Project HOOD (Helping Others Obtain Destiny), a nonprofit that seeks to end violence and build communities.
Brooks explained in the interview that the city is beset by many young men who are illegal gun owners.
“Not only are they illegal gun owners, but they are shooting at each other,” he continued. “They’re causing havoc in our community and they are causing a lot of destruction. And, unfortunately, as a result of their destruction, children are being shot. Innocent bystanders are being shot.”
Seventy-nine people were shot and 15 were killed over the July 4th weekend in the Windy City, according to Chicago Sun-Times Sunday.
Among the 15 killed is 7-year-old Natalia Wallace, who succumbed to her injuries after she was reportedly shot while playing outside her grandmother’s home in the South Austin neighborhood on Saturday.
A suspect, 33-year-old Reginald Merrill, was charged late Monday with the one count of first-degree murder and one count of felony aggravated battery involving the discharge of a firearm, according to CBS Chicago.
“It hurts me that my youngest daughter is no longer here, that I would not be able to talk to her, hold her, tell her anything, bedtime stories, anything,” Nathan Wallace, Natalia’s father, said during a news conference on Sunday.
Wallace is one of 11 minors who were shot over the weekend in Chicago and one of two who were killed.
Vernado Jones Jr., 14, died on Saturday night after he was among eight people shot in Englewood on Chicago’s South Side. In addition to Vernado, three others were killed in the South Side shooting and two other minors were shot but are not in life-threatening conditions, The Sun-Times reports.
Since June 20, at least 10 children under the age of 18 have died as a result of gun violence in Chicago, according to Chicago Sun-Times records.
Brooks started Project HOOD after sleeping on the roof of an abandoned motel for 94 days in order to draw attention to gun violence on the south side of Chicago, the organization's website explains.
“People are afraid to leave the house,” Brooks told Fox News of the current atmosphere in the third-most-populous U.S. city.
The holiday weekend deaths are being added to an already violent year in Chicago.
According to the local ABC affiliate, 329 people have been killed in the Midwestern city in the first six months of 2020, an approximately 34% uptick from the 246 homicides committed during the first six months of 2019.
“I think sometimes we have to get beyond our pride of feeling inadequate and just come to an understanding that [we have to do] whatever it takes to save the lives of individuals in our city,” Brooks told Fox News when asked what he thought of President Donald Trump's tweet saying the federal authorities could intervene to lessen crime if asked.
“So if bringing in the feds, bringing in the military or whoever to help us to make sure that we can get rid of this violence, I’m all for it, whatever it takes.”
The pastor believes some families will move out of Chicago because the risk of their children being killed in the streets is too great.
“It’s just too much to deal with,” he said.