Monday, May 27, 2013

Chicago: A black man has been charged with killing a 6-month-old girl whose death earlier in 2013 brought attention to gang violence on the city's South Side

Koman Willis, 34, is accused of killing the baby, who was shot on March 11, 2013 while sitting in her father's lap in a minivan. Police say that the baby's father, Jonathan Watkins, was the intended target of the attack. Willis is charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm, said Sally Daly, a spokeswoman for the Cook County State's Attorney's Office. Watkins, who has a lengthy criminal record, was seriously wounded in the shooting. Chicago police devoted large numbers of resources to finding a suspect in the shooting, which happened in the middle of the day in the city's Woodlawn neighborhood. In March 2013, police Superintendent Garry McCarthy had said that Watkins was cooperating with the investigation but that there was "a lot more" help he could provide. At the girl's funeral, several people lamented the "code of silence" that keeps some residents from reporting crimes, cooperating with authorities or even fingering members of rival gangs who have targeted them. Religious leaders speaking at the funeral service implored those in attendance to transform gang-riven neighborhoods. The shooting came just weeks after a 15-year-old honors student was gunned down on a South Side street in an apparent case of mistaken identity.

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