Just as Chicago lawmakers were beginning to breathe a small sigh of relief at the city’s dwindling crime rate, a 14-year-old South Side girl was shot and killed by classmates in a rivalry over a boy.
Police arrested another 14-year-old girl and charged her with first-degree murder in the stunning execution-style shooting death of 14-year-old Endia Martin in the city’s Back of the Yards community. Endia was fatally shot in the back at about 4:30 p.m. Monday after returning home from Tilden Career Academy, police say.
The shooting, apparently sparked by a Facebook feud, proved embarrassing for the embattled city, which has been dubbed “Chiraq” because its murder rate at one time called to mind the death toll among U.S. soldiers in Iraq.
Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy rushed to the podium to denounce, in front of cameras, the shooting, reiterate the falling crime rate, and announce a battle plan against surging violence during the warm months.
“The summer months is our busy season … and we have to ramp up our response to violence in the city,” McCarthy said in an interview Wednesday with the Associated Press. The effort, dubbed “Summer Surge,” is comparable to last year’s initiative at the same time, when the city paid $100 million in overtime to as many as 400 officers, who flooded the streets of high-crime neighborhoods. The effort garnered praise as homicides plummeted to 415 last year. The rate was still among the nation’s highest, although the city recorded 80 fewer homicides than in 2012, the AP says.
This summer McCarthy does not anticipate spending as much in overtime as last year, but the City Council has set aside about $70 million, he told the AP. He said that the mayor “has made it very clear if we need more overtime for more initiatives, he will find a way to fund it.”
Endia’s shooting follows three consecutive weekends during which at least 30 people were shot and at least 16 people were killed, the AP reports. And Monday’s killing followed the shooting of an anti-violence activist, who was slain in her West Pullman neighborhood on the city’s far South Side.
Leonore Draper, who had just attended a fundraiser for a group that teaches young people about violence, was caught in the crossfire between warring gang members, police say.
“This one happens to be a particular tragedy in that she was working to really stem the tide,” McCarthy said, according to CBS Chicago.
Indeed, activists, as Draper had been, have long realized that keeping young people engaged and occupied by meaningful academic and sports activities after school could help curtail the city’s gun-violence epidemic. These advocates have also argued the importance of teaching youth conflict-resolution skills to show them that violence and, ultimately, death are not the only way to settle disputes.
“We need the help,” Diane Latiker, founder of Kids Off the Block, a youth-development organization on the city’s South Side, told The Root recently about National Action Network leader Al Sharpton’s decision last year to move to the city to help address violence. “We need the help. Our young people are still killing each other. Gun violence is a big issue. Families are still hurting, and it is directly linked to the economy, jobs and education.”
Potentially, Endia’s death runs counter to McCarthy’s protestation that the homicide rate doesn’t rise and fall with the weather. It has long been argued that simmering gang feuds are put on ice during the winter and are reignited when the weather warms up, but McCarthy argues that the crime problem is about gun laws, which need strengthening.
Endia’s life, police say, ended on a sidewalk in a dispute over a boy, according to the Chicago Tribune. The Tribune is not naming that boy or the 14-year-old murder suspect because both are juveniles.
The incident began Monday when an uncle, who was paralyzed after being shot in 2010, rode a bus to deliver a loaded revolver to his niece just hours before the fatal confrontation, Cook County prosecutors said Wednesday.
The suspect’s uncle, Donnell Flora, 25, reportedly knew that she planned to use the .38-caliber revolver to accost her onetime friend over a social media feud about a boy, prosecutors said. Flora was charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder in court Wednesday. He was ordered held on $3 million bail after admitting that he provided his niece with the weapon, the Tribune reports.
Flora was the third person charged in connection with Endia’s killing. Earlier, a 17-year-old boy was arrested on weapons and other charges for allegedly trying to hide the gun after the shooting, the Tribune says.
The 14-year-old alleged shooter, a student at Hope College Prep High School, was arrested near the scene. The honor roll student played on the freshman-sophomore basketball team and was a student leader, according to her lawyer, the Tribune says.
But her social media accounts indicated a different personality.
“Bout to beat some a—,” the girl tweeted about two hours before the fatal confrontation. She also posted on Facebook a photo of herself sticking out her tongue and holding up her middle finger. The photo was captioned: “I Don't Chase ’Em I RePlace ’Em.”
In a brief interview Wednesday at her home, the suspect’s mother said her daughter and Endia graduated from elementary school together last year and often communicated on Facebook.
“That's how [the shooting] started,” she said in an apparent reference to Facebook.
When asked about the shooting, Mayor Rahm Emanuel got emotional, ABC 7 reports.
“Where are the values that a 14-year-old would shoot another 14-year-old over a dispute on Facebook?” he asked.