CHICAGO — A vigil and balloon release was held Wednesday night to honor the slain victims in the Englewood mass shooting.
Family and friends of the victims made emotional appeals for change from within their own neighborhood after four people were killed and four others were wounded at a party early Tuesday morning in the 6200 block of South Morgan Street.
Police said three of the four who were wounded were shot in the head and are receiving treatment at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
Meanwhile, the victims’ families are struggling with sadness and a lack of solutions.
Releasing balloons Wednesday evening only underscored the fact that letting go of grief and pain is not easy.
“It’s not a holler of help,” said Deon Williams, a sister of slain 19-year-old Shametria Williams. “It’s a holler of mercy on Chicago, I want mercy on Chicago.”
On Wednesday, the other victims were identified as Denice Mathis, 32, Blake Lee, 34 and Rantanya Rogers, 28. Mathis was a mother of five and Lee lived in the home.
It’s still unclear what actually happened at the party, but police believe an argument exploded into a mass shooting.
The violence within Englewood prompted longtime activist Darryl Smith to demand that people dispense platitudes about “coming together” and “increasing the peace.”
“We’ve got to quit saying, ‘when will it stop?’ and ‘put down the guns.’ We have to,” Smith said. “Only we can save we.”
Smith said that emergence of violent crime demands personal appearances from older Black men to younger Black men.
“It has to be the men. They can’t be what they can’t see,” Smith said.
Violence crime has surged in Chicago. On Wednesday, Mayor Lightfoot wrote in a letter outlining a strategy that would increase resources and support to 15 targeted neighborhoods that, “Our young people need a safe place to learn and have fun. Our communities need access to job opportunities, social services, and resources—especially as we emerge from the pandemic.”
This week, Lightfoot also said that Chicago was by-and-large safe. A pastor at Wednesday’s vigil had a counter point.
“I beg to differ madam mayor, this is not a safe city,” the Rev. Darius Randle said. “It’s a very dangerous city and what happened here should have never happened.”
As the balloons drifted toward the sky, Williams’ sister could only articulate a sense of confusion — letting go only makes the burden heavier.
“I don’t understand, ” she said. “I don’t understand.”
Detectives continue to follow up on leads and believe two people carried out the massacre. Anyone with information can leave an anonymous tip at cpdtip.com.