CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago teenager accused of shooting dead an 11-year-old girl was aiming his gun at members of a rival gang when a stray bullet struck the girl as she was making s'mores during a sleepover, police said Thursday.
At a news conference to announce the first-degree murder charge against 18-year-old Tevin Lee, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said that police suspect the shooting of Shamiya Adams stemmed from a fist fight between a 14-year-old associated with Lee's gang and another 14-yeaer-old from another gang.
"After observing the rival gang members he thought responsible, he opened fire without care or regard of anyone else," said McCarthy of the July 18 shooting. "Unfortunately his intended targets were standing beside the home in which Shamiyya and her friends were innocently playing."
The little girl was making s'mores with friends in a house in Chicago's West Garfield Park neighborhood when a bullet went through a slightly opened window, pierced a wall and struck her in the head. She died several hours later. Lee was scheduled to appear in court Friday. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney and there was no listed phone number for him.
Homicide investigations, particularly those involving gangs, are difficult because witnesses often refuse to come forward. But McCarthy said police identified nine witnesses, two of whom came forward on their own, and agreed that perhaps the senselessness of the shooting helped convince them to cooperate.
But the slaying was also the latest example of the price of gang violence that has been a major reason why Chicago has led the nation in homicides in recent years. It comes at a time of renewed national media attention on Chicago after a flurry of shootings in recent weeks.
The death of the 11-year-old, like that of a teacher weeks earlier who was also struck by a stray bullet as she sat inside a building, has brought into focus the city's continued struggle to contain street violence.
The slaying was also reminiscent of another recent homicide in Chicago that became a national news story: The shooting death of 14-year-old girl, allegedly by another 14-year-old girl after her uncle allegedly gave her a handgun when she showed up to fight the other teen.
"Somebody introduces a gun into the situation and we now have another child murdered," said McCarthy, who has pointed to the flood of illegal guns into the city as a reason.