A suspect has been taken into custody in the shooting death of 9-year-old Janari Ricks, a fourth grader who was gunned down on the Near North Side last week while playing with friends, according to Chicago police.
Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said charges were pending approval by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.
Janari was playing behind the Cabrini-Green townhomes in the 900 block of North Cambridge Avenue when a gunman fired into a parking lot around 6:45 p.m. Friday, police said.
“The young boy is playing out there, not doing anything wrong, as the defendant drives up, kind of sneaks through like the cut of a gangway and then he discharges (a) firearm, not at this kid, at a group of other males who are standing near the poor boy,” Deenihan said at a news conference a few blocks from where Janari was killed.
“And unfortunately, as the bullets are flying, it’s the 9-year-old who is shot and killed,” he said. “And then this defendant makes good his escape.”
The boy’s mother, Jalisa Ford, said she was inside her home when she heard about the shooting from a neighbor. She said she ran to the parking lot and saw Janari on the ground. “I was talking to him, just talking to him,” Ford said.
The number of shooting victims younger than 10 years old is three times what it was last year, according to Tribune data.
Twenty-four children 10 years old and younger have been shot in Chicago — five of them fatally — as of the end of July, according to a database of shooting victims kept by the Tribune. The 2019 total during the same time period was eight.
“Janari Andre Ricks, a bright, beloved, athletic, soon-to-be fourth grader who loved math and basketball was just 9 years old when he was shot and killed while doing what every child in our city should be able to do without a second thought,” Chicago police Superintendent David Brown said at the news conference outside the Near North District station. “And now, instead of planning for a future, Janari’s parents are arranging their child’s funeral.”
Brown said the arrest highlights the importance of the police and the community working together.
Breaking News Newsletter
As it happens
Get updates on the coronavirus pandemic and other news as it happens with our breaking email alerts
“All communities are not trusting in the same way. Many communities lack trust completely that we have to build from ground zero,” said Brown. “But communities like this, they felt comfortable coming forward with information almost immediately, where we were able to solve this crime.”
Ald. Walter Burnett, whose 27th Ward covers the Cabrini-Green townhouses, said people involved in the incident have known one another’s families for about 50 years. But he insisted that those responsible for the shooting do not “live there anymore.”
“Stop coming over to the neighborhood and doing your dirt,” the alderman said. “Do dirt where you live, or don’t do dirt at all. But stop coming to the row houses and doing things.
“The people in the row houses are just trying to survive, just trying to live, just trying to raise their family,” Burnett continued.
Asked about what the shooter and intended target were doing at the row houses, Burnett said “whatever they was doing, they didn’t have no business doing.”
“Whether it was drug trafficking or gangbanging or whatever the case may be, they didn’t have any business being over there doing it,” Burnett said. “It’s unfortunate that people try to take advantage of people that know them by doing stuff around them, and don’t know that they put people in jeopardy when they do that, and that’s why, you know, unfortunately we have a young person that’s deceased right now because of that.”