The father of a 9-year-old girl slain in Englewood is refusing to cooperate as police question two suspects in the shooting, police sources say.
The father, who was wounded along with two of his friends, may have been an intended target, the sources said.
Police Supt. Jody Weis said the shooting the left Chastity Turner dead was gang-related and he credited the neighborhood for helping investigators.
"We're interviewing a lot of people right now. We've got some very, very good leads. I'd like to thank everybody in the city of Englewood for reaching out; they were good citizens. We've got great witnesses and that case is moving along favorable."
"As so often, so many times, an innocent child is killed due to gang violence," Weis said. "All the indications right now, it's a gang-related shooting. And again, we have a 9-year-old child who is dead because of that and that's absolutely horrific.
"We know who the gangbangers are. They don't come in from the suburbs; they don't come in from Mars. They're here in our community."
But the father's aunt, Mary Darke, said she did not believe the shooting was gang-related. "If they feared gangs, why would they be out on the porch?"
Chastity was washing the family's pit bull terriers with her father on the side of the family's apartment building when a van pulled up and someone began shooting. The girl was struck in the back and her father, Andre Turner, was wounded in the arm and leg. Two friends of the father were also hit.
Police said the shots came from a light-green van. A vehicle fitting that description was located a short time later a few blocks from the shooting. Investigators have recovered a rifle from it.
The girl's grandmother, Tanya Turner, said she was in her bedroom sleeping when she was awakened by gunfire. She looked out the window and was told "my grandbaby got shot.''
Turner said her granddaughter had just completed 3rd grade at Thorp Elementary School, and was to spend summer vacation at her home as well as at the home of her maternal grandmother. During the year she lived with her mother near 64th Street and Martin Luther King Drive.
"I called her my little old lady. She was like a little mother. She was really, really smart and friendly,'' Turner said through tears outside her home about two hours after the shooting.
"She was a normal, playful, little girl who always wanted to dance and play with everybody," said Ericka Johnson, a cousin. "She was lovable, smart, tough, respectable."
Turner said innocent victims like her granddaughter have become all too common in Chicago.
"I've seen the pictures. I've seen the balloons [from memorials]. You wonder how anybody could cut down a 5-, 6-, 9-year-old,'' she said. "Little kids die every day. It's somebody's grandchild, everyday."
Tawanda Sterling, a friend of the family, talks about Chastity Turner at the scene of the shooting in the 7400 block of South Stewart today. (José M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune)
Joseph Patterson, deputy chief of the Wentworth Area patrol division, said a teal or light-green van drove south down the 7400 block of Stewart shortly before 7 p.m. It slowed, then stopped, and shots were fired from inside at people gathered in front of the home, Patterson said.
Police located an abandoned van matching the description a few blocks away and were investigating whether it was the vehicle used in the shooting. Patterson would not say if any weapons were found.
"We need help from the community,'' Patterson said. "It was broad daylight when this occurred.''
He said that the neighborhood was full of people who were outside on the street enjoying the summer weather when the shooting happened.
"It was just a warm summer night with lots of people out,'' Patterson said. He asked anyone with any information to call Wentworth Area detectives at 312-747-8380.
Johnson said Tanya Turner's home was considered a safe haven in the neighborhood. She said Turner allowed people to congregate in front of her home or on the porch, where they would often barbecue or hang out.
"She would let everyone hang out there, as long as they weren't disrespectful," Johnson said. "She was keeping them off the streets."
Napoleon Jeans, a neighbor of Turner's, said the building's porch and front yard attracted as many as a dozen people each night. As recently as four weeks ago, he said he heard a long exchange of gunfire from that direction.
Johnson agreed the neighborhood has been plagued by violence since the weather turned warm, with fights and gunfire almost every night. She said she had been worried that an innocent person was going to get killed in the disputes, and was crushed to find that it was her own cousin.
"It's got to end; why does it have to come to this?," she said as she comforted her daughter and other family members. "It's all dumb and now this ... a baby gone, for nothing."