Boy, 8, hit by bullet in bedroom

July 16, 2009 4:52:03 PM PDT
An apparent stray bullet wounded a young boy inside his Englewood home.It happened late Wednesday night in a two flat on Green near 65th Street.

The 8-year-old boy is in stable condition at Comer Children's Hospital. Bullets were fired right into his home from the street. Police say it happened around 11:30 p.m. in the 6500-block of South Green Street on the city's South Side.

Police say the boy was sitting in his bedroom in a second floor apartment when the bullets hit his home and shot him through a window. The boy was shot in the arm and the back but the bullet missed vital organs.

Police were unsure if the bullets were stray bullets or if the gunfire was intended to hit the apartment.

There were no suspects in custody on Thursday.

Jonmel was recovering on Thursday afternoon in the hospital.

"His recovery from the wounds to his arm and chest are probably going to be a week to two weeks. Unfortunately, I think the psychological healing from being at home, which should be a safe location and sustaining a gunshot wound, could actually, unfortunately, be a lifetime. He definitely is a lucky little boy and definitely things could have been a lot worse than they were," said Dr. Tracy Koogler, director, Pediatric ICU, Comer Children's Hospital.

"As the surgeon was going to take an X-ray, he was talking. I was keeping him awake and let him know, just be strong, it's going to be OK, and just hold on. And he did that," said Walter Walker, Jonmel's father.

Walker, who is a minister at a South Side church, says faith and family will be what helps pull young Jonmel through this tragedy. Jonmel is one of nine children in the family.

Some neighbors and Walker suspect a gang rivalry on the block. Walker, who does not live in the home, blames some gang members he says were sitting on the porch but who do not live there.

Like much of the Englewood neighborhood, fights over gang turf have bedeviled the block where the shooting occurred, according to police sources.

"We can't stop that, you know, because he was in his house watching TV. If he would have seen them coming, I'm quite sure he would have ran and ducked," said Walker.

Some community activists, however, aren't as resigned to facing violence. Jonmel, who friends and family say is a good student and baseball fan, is being seen as blessed for surviving his brush with death. But that's not something to celebrate.

"We are just working in Englewood, and when you cut the monies off, this happens. A baby is very blessed. That's not luck, because he got hit in the arm, through his chest, that is a blessing. Who is going to get that blessing again?" said Ameena Matthews, CeaseFire.

It's a sentiment the mayor focused on in his reaction to the shooting.

America is losing their conscience. They're losing their values about how important children are," said Mayor Daley.

Chicago Police say Jonmel is the third child under the age of 14 to be shot in the city since July 7.


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