Mom killed in gang crossfire laid to rest

October 15, 2009 (CHICAGO) The 20-year-old mother of three was gunned down by gang members, according to Chicago police, as she waited for a bus at 10 p.m. a week ago Wednesday. Police say she was not the intended target. Her family hopes their loss may signal change in how the West Side deals with such crimes.

Howliet was waiting for a bus when she was approached by two strangers who were gang members. Police said two other gang members -- 31-year-old twins Keith and Kelly Pearson -- drove by and opened fire on the group. Howliet was struck in the back.

Howliet's friends comforted her mother, Patrice Matthews, at the funeral on Thursday.

"I thank the police department and the community for all the help they done for me," said Matthews at the funeral. She then broke down into tears.

Both of the Persons have been charged with first-degree murder. Police said they confessed on videotape after being identified in police line-ups by members of the community who divulged the pair's street names. It's a level of cooperation authorities say they always ask for but rarely get.

Howliet's stepfather, James Matthews, who helped raise her from the age of 7, said she was a bright child whose death ought to be a wake-up call.

"We have to do something to stop this we have to do something to stop this, this really done gone too far," said James Matthews. "We are losing the war on the streets to our children, we are losing our children, and it is not supposed to be this way."

Well known activists say the response to Howliet's killing shows a safer West Side is possible.

"In the Garfield community the statement has been made that we will speak up. You will not take the lives of our young people. We will speak up. We will snitch. We will tell, that is a great statement," said Rev. Ira Acree, Leaders Network for Social Justice.

The Pearsons are scheduled to appear in bond court Friday.

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