February 15, 2017 at 11:37 AM
A toddler and his uncle were killed and a pregnant woman was wounded in Chicago on Tuesday when a gunman opened fire on their car as they drove through the city's West Side, in a shooting captured on Facebook Live.
The deadly attack came after several days of breathtaking violence in Chicago, during which two preteen girls were struck in the head by stray bullets in separate incidents that occurred within a half-hour of each other. One of the girls was pronounced dead Tuesday, and the other remained in critical condition and on life support, police said.
Cellphone video from the most recent shooting showed a young woman with braids driving a car with a young man in the passenger seat and a toddler wearing a blue sweatshirt in the back.
At first, the two can be seen laughing and singing along to music. As the car takes a turn, the woman looks panicked out the window, then throws open the door. More than a dozen gunshots ring out as she runs down an alleyway and scrambles into a house.
The camera then goes dark, but the woman can be heard yelling "they killed him" as others in the room try to comfort her.
"I have a bullet in my stomach," she says, screaming out in pain. "I can't breathe."
At one point, the woman says she cannot go to the hospital because she is worried she will be sent to jail. "Yes, you can," someone responds.
Police said the toddler, 2-year-old Lavontay White Jr., was shot in the head, as was the passenger, identified only as the boy's 26-year-old uncle. Both victims were pronounced dead at Stroger Hospital, according to the Chicago Tribune, which reported that the boy was the city's youngest shooting victim since 2013.
The woman, 20, was four months pregnant. She and her baby were in the hospital in fair condition and expected to survive, according to the Tribune. She reportedly told police she was driving in an alley behind an AC Delco Auto Electronics shop when a car blocked them in and a gunman got out and opened fire. Pictures from the scene showed a red sedan riddled with bullet holes, its doors ajar.
Police said the 26-year-old was a known gang member and likely the intended target. No one has been arrested in connection with the shooting, they said.
"We have very promising leads. We have video," Superintendent Eddie Johnson told reporters at the scene.
Johnson said the killings underscored the need for new gun control legislation, as well as a "culture of accountability" for violent offenders.
"I hope our legislative partners are looking right now," he said. "We have yet another innocent child in Chicago that could lose their life over senseless gun violence."
Chicago has struggled to contain a surge in gang-related violence that has spiraled out of control in the past year. The city had 4,000 shooting victims and 762 homicides last year, marking a two-decade high, according to police statistics. President Trump has threatened to send in federal authorities if city officials can't quell the violence — although, as The Washington Post's Mark Berman and Matt Zapotosky note, federal agents already work alongside Chicago police.
The spike in shootings has continued into 2017. There have been at least 76 homicides in Chicago so far this year. Last weekend alone, more than two-dozen people were shot, five of them fatally.
Among the victims was 12-year-old Kanari Gentry Bowers, who was struck in the head by a stray bullet Saturday evening as she was playing basketball at an elementary school in Chicago's West Englewood neighborhood. Less than a half-hour after that shooting and a few miles across town, a stray bullet struck 11-year-old Takiya Holmes in the head as she was riding in her family's minivan, local media reported.
Holmes died in the hospital Tuesday, family members told the Tribune. Bowers remained in critical condition and on life support.
"Our community has to come together to protect our children," Patsy Holmes, Takiya's grandmother, told the Tribune. "Our children our innocent."
Mayor Rahm Emanuel condemned the shootings in a statement Tuesday night, saying they "must be a turning point for our city."
"One victim of one shooting is one too many," Emanuel said, "but when innocent children are caught in the crossfire of gun violence and young people have their childhood stolen by stray bullets, our consciences are shaken and our hearts are broken."