Families worry about 2 girls, 11 and 12, in critical condition after separate shootings

CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) - Two girls — one 11, the other 12 — were shot in the head in separate incidents on Saturday night.

Police and family believe they were struck by stray bullets.

Takiya Holmes, 11, didn’t have time to duck.

Her mother, Nakeeia Williams, heard gunshots and told everyone in the car to get down.

“When it was over, she asked, ‘Is everybody OK? Is everybody OK?’ And Takiya didn’t respond,” the girl’s grandmother, Patsy Holmes, said Sunday morning outside Comer Children’s Hospital, where Takiya was in critical condition and on life support.

Takiya was sitting next to her 3-year-old brother in the back seat of a van — her mother and aunt were in the front seats — when gunfire erupted about 7:40 p.m. in the 6500 block of South King Drive in the Parkway Gardens neighborhood.

Williams was parked outside a dry cleaning store, where she worked, and planned to exchange cars with a co-worker when someone fired shots, Patsy Holmes said.

“This doesn’t make any sense,” Patsy Holmes said. “This has got to stop. These babies are dying, and for what?”

“They was just shooting at someone and that vehicle just happened to catch one of the bullets,” she said.

Anti-violence activist Andrew Holmes said Takiya Holmes is his cousin, and he was with his family at her bedside on Sunday. He said the girl was still in critical condition and on life support Sunday night. She was not responding to tests, but doctors were planning to conduct more tests Monday morning.

He said he planned to reach out to the family of the 12-year-old girl, Kanari Gentry, who also was shot in the head, on Monday.

“We all have to come together as a city and make sure we get this under control because this is getting out of hand,” Patsy Holmes said, while also offering prayers for 12-year-old Kanari, who was shot in the head in a separate incident on the South Side within an hour of her granddaughter’s shooting.

“They’re not safe anywhere. Bullets, they don’t have names, they just travel,” she said.

Relatives from around the Midwest were converging on the hospital to see Takiya, a fifth-grader with good grades and a deep-dimpled smile that left an impression.

Takiya had just joined a basketball team. And she participated in a program that taught young girls how to act like young ladies, Patsy Holmes said.

“You have to have a positive attitude, and till God says it’s over, it ain’t over,” she said. “We will get through this. And if it’s his will, then, you know, we have to accept it. But it’s going to be hard.”

About 25 minutes before Takiya was shot, and about 4 miles to the west, 12-year-old Kanari Gentry was critically wounded by gunfire Saturday night in the West Englewood neighborhood.

Kanari and her friends scattered in separate directions when they heard gunshots while playing in a school lot about 7:15 p.m. in the 1900 block of West 57th Street.

The path Kanari picked to flee intersected with a bullet that struck her head.

In the minutes and hours that followed, her heart stopped three separate times, relatives said. Paramedics and doctors at Stroger Hospital revived her each time.

Kanari was in critical condition, but she was able to communicate by blinking, her cousin, Patricia Donald, said Sunday afternoon.

“She knows to duck, to drop,” said Patricia Donald, who lives with Kanari at their grandmother’s house about four blocks from scene of the shooting.

“We’re like house kids,” she said. “My grandmother, she’s strict, if we go out she always has to know where we are, who we’re with, what we’re doing, what time we’re coming home.”

Although Kanari’s grandmother tried to keep her under her wing as much as possible, the girl knew the sound of gunfire, said Patricia Donald, 20.

“The neighborhood we live in, that’s all that happens is a lot of shootings,” she said. “She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

The wrong place for Kanari was the parking lot of the school she attended, Henderson Elementary, which doubles as a play lot, Patricia Donald said.

A Chicago Public Schools spokesperson did not immediately respond to calls and emails seeking comment.

“She’s fighting and I’m not going to leave her side,” Patricia Donald said.

“She liked to dance and get on my nerves, steal my phone and get on Facebook Live and dance and act goofy,” she said.

Family members struggled to make sense of the shooting.

“I’m just speechless,” said Kanari’s aunt, Rochetta Tyler. “I don’t know what we can do to resolve all this crime going on in the city, it’s just terrible.”

“She was at her school just playing basketball outside, and I guess a car came up and got to shooting and they shot her in the head, the back of her head,” Tyler said.

“Are you serious? I mean, for what? Beefing ain’t that serious, I don’t care the cause,” she said.

“Why? That’s the question,” said Kanari’s uncle, Djuan Donald.

“She didn’t do nothing, she didn’t deserve this,” he said. “Please stop, put down these guns, man!”

“The only thing she wanted to do was play, that’s it,” he said. “Kids getting killed for playing now? For playing?”

Police had made no arrests in either shooting as of Sunday afternoon.

The two girls were among 25 people shot in Chicago over the weekend, including five killed. During the second weekend of February 2016, which was a three-day Presidents Day weekend, six people were killed and 19 wounded.

So far in 2017, 397 people have been shot in Chicago, according to Chicago Sun-Times records. At least 10 of the victims have been children 14 years old and younger.

 

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