CHICAGO — A Near North Side community is calling on city leaders for help in the wake of a 9-year-old’s murder on Friday, leaving a neighborhood traumatized and crying out for mental health support services Sunday.
Community leaders returned to the spot where 9-year-old Janari Ricks was gunned down to say enough is enough. Standing next to balloons, candles and teddy bears commemorating Ricks’ heartbreakingly short life, they called for shooters to turn themselves in and both community and government members to take on gun violence.
“We are adamant about getting this young man captured and seized for the senseless act he committed and we are asking him again, turn yourself in; if you turn yourself in you can make this a whole lot easier,” said Raymond Richard, Brothers Standing Together. “You know what you did, you know who you are, and we are gonna pray that you do the right thing.”
One of the main messages from community activists like Andrew Holmes Sunday: stop protecting shooters.
WATCH ABOVE: Anti-violence activists speak Sunday after a 9-year-old boy was shot and killed on the Near North Side Friday
“These are our babies that are falling,” Holmes said. “Carbon monoxide is a silent killer, COVID-19 you can’t see it neither, but the shooter you see him.”
Activists and neighbors say city officials need to bring mental support services to affected neighborhoods after Chicago saw 105 homicides in July, including multiple children being killed. They said, “hurt people, hurt other people” and they want city leaders to step up.
For instance, they said mental health services will be vital for kids who witnessed Ricks’ shooting, as he was playing with his friends at the time.
Another mother who knows the pain of losing a child all too well is Onique Walker, who lost her son Delmonte Johnson two years ago after he was ambushed while walking to the store.
“They come out the alleyway, started shooting and shot my son twice in the chest,” Walker said.
Delmonte Johnson took his last breath in his brother’s arms. Walker and others said city leaders need to increase mental health support for kids like her own son.
“He’s mentally going… though every day he wakes up in a nightmare,” Walker said.
Tio Hardiman of Violence interrupters asked people to put down the guns, while calling on their neighbors to step in and help prevent the violence.
“Kids are not doing good; they’re hurting,” said Tio Hardiman, Executive Director for Violence Interrupters. “It’s ok to sit down and work it out, that’s what men do.”
The Andrew Holmes Foundation and other elected officials are offering a $4,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person who pulled the trigger in Janari Ricks’ murder.
As of Sunday night, no one is in custody over his death.