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Charges filed in 1 of 2 teens' weekend murders

March 31, 2008 4:51:41 PM PDT
Students at a South Side high school are coping with the death of a student who was gunned down outside the building over the weekend.

Chavez Clarke, 18, a Simeon High School student, became the 20th Chicago Public Schools student killed by gun violence this school year. Monday morning, prosecutors charged two teenagers in connection with his death.

Police say that the two teenagers who have been charged with Saturday's homicide are both students over at Dunbar High School. They say that the shooting on Saturday happened because of a fight there and then spilled into the parking lot at Simeon High School.

The teenagers have been charged with Saturday's murder are 19-year-old Ronald Little and 17-year-old Samuel Hill. Police say that Hill was the shooter. Both appeared in court Monday afternoon.

Authorities say they have videotaped statements from both defendants that they did commit the murder. Police added that they also have caught the attack on video surveillance.

The family of Hill left court Monday upset that the 17-year old will remain behind bars accused of the murder of Clarke. Hill's attorney says it was a matter of self-defense.

"There had been numerous previous encounters between the parties and he was there where he was supposed to be and a big group was coming after him," said attorney Howard Weisman.

Authorities say Little attended Simeon Saturday classes with Clarke. Clarke was taking the weekend classes to graduate in June. On that same afternoon, investigators say Hill got into an argument with a group of boys then pointed a nine millimeter gunLlittle had brought to school.

"Both defendants have gotten beaten up and they were trying to protect themselves from being beaten up again," said Weisman.

Little says he brought the gun Saturday because of several prior altercations with other students. Authorities say it was as Little pointed the gun at a crowd of students that Hill took the weapon from him and fired into the crowd, striking and killing Clarke. The judge has allowed no bail for hill and has set bond for Little at $1 million.

"They killed my brother in cold blood. He was not a gang member. I think that's a big misconception that is out there. All youths involved in a shooting, it's not because of gang problems," said Alexis Clarke, victim's sister.

"We have way too many babies dropping dead and wounded for us to still continue to be talking about it. We've got to get into some action," said Ameena Matthews, Ceasefire member.

Police are still looking for the assailant who killed another Chicago Public Schools student. Miguel Pedro was killed Friday walking to a neighborhood grocery store. Police have no suspects in that case and have made no arrests. Crisis counselors will be at his school this week as well.

It was a violent weekend for Chicago Public Schools. Seven students were shot and two students were killed. Monday morning, about 100 students gathered in the parking lot of Simeon High School to comfort each other, say a prayer, and basically just remember the life of the young man who was killed in the parking lot only two days ago.

Eighteen-year-old Chavez Clarke had just left his Saturday classes at Simeon High School when he was gunned down in the school's parking lot. He had dropped out of school a while ago but recently decided to come back and graduate. That's why he was taking weekend classes.

Monday morning, the dreary weather matched the mood of many students as they arrived for class.

"I was real cool with him, man. I was going crazy. I couldn't believe -- I can't believe they killed that man. He didn't deserve it. He was a nice guy," said Kenneth Williams, friend of victim.

Because of all the shootings over the weekend, many parents decided to drop their children off Monday, though most say they are happy with the security at the school.

"I feel like she is pretty safe. It's -- it is just happening. I don't know. It's just happening everywhere with all of these schools with these kids," said Dewitt Fisher, parent.

"I'm very hurt. I feel so sorry for the young man's parent. I had just picked my baby up Saturday when it happened. About two or three minutes before it happened," said Maggie Hartwell, parent.

Chicago Public Schools Chief Arne Duncan was at Simeon Monday morning talking with a group of student leaders. In a brief news conference afterwards, Duncan once again called for more gun control. He also compared those responsible for the recent wave of shootings to suicide bombers in the Middle East.

"They're going to be in jail for the rest of their lives. We have everything is on tape. We have cameras everywhere. Instantaneously. Who is creating the mentality that that's OK? That's like al-Qaida," said Duncan

Police are still looking into whether the shooting was gang-related.

Meanwhile, Duncan had some blunt words for young men considering joining a gang.

"Are the gangs going to be with them for the next 80 years in jail?" said Duncan.

On Tuesday, school officials and students have organized a protest over at the State of Illinois Building. They will be getting busloads of students from Simeon and plan to go to the State of Illinois building at 11 a.m. They are expecting 400 - 500 students to participate.

"It is ridiculous that children are able to get guns as if they are going to the store to buy candy. Why is it a 19-year old and 17-year old had access to guns? That is a problem," said Alexis Clarke.

Community leaders and others got together Monday to try to figure out how to stop teens from being involved in taking part in that gun violence.

"I grew up in a house with eight kids and with no attention towards one person," said one participant.

"There are resources that will allow you to target and deal with some of the issues before it becomes a tragedy such as we experienced this weekend," said Alice Henry, youth advocate.

They hope to create a clearinghouse or place where teens can come and assist others in getting help and other resources for families and communities. At the same time, those community activists who want stiffer gun laws vowed to pressure lawmakers in Springfield to do just that.

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