High school student latest gun violence victim

April 3, 2010 9:12:25 PM PDT
A 17-year-old Chicago public school student has become one of the latest victims of gun violence in the city.Reggis Washington was shot in the back and killed Friday night. Relatives say it was only months ago that he went to live with his grandparents so he could have a better education and a better life.

The shooting came after several days of deadly violence on Chicago's streets.

Police say Washington was shot at approximately 7:30 p.m. Friday in the 6900-block of South Wabash.

Saturday, his family members and friends were forced to remember Reggis Washington as a precocious Little Leaguer who was once far away from the gun violence that claimed his life.

"Reggis was like a son to me. He was cool, straightforward," said family friend Larissa Tillman.

The 17-year-old Chicago public school student died Friday just blocks from his South Side home after gun violence erupted in several city neighborhoods.

The series of shootings began late Wednesday night. More than 40 people were shot in 31 incidents, including three homicides in addition to Washington's murder.

The most brazen display happened as officers answered a call about an earlier shooting near 66th Street and Marshfield.

Chicago police have responded by increasing efforts to target those using guns illegally.

"We have ratched up our deployments, we have put all kinds of resources into the community that we have targeted, watching the uptick in violence," said Asst. Superintendent James Jackson of the Chicago Police Department.

Despite the appearance of a surge in violence, crime is actually down 7.9 percent, according to the Chicago Police Department's latest crime statistics.

Numbers for March 2010 are not available, but CPD's index crime summary reports, for both January and February of this year, a drop in every category except burglary and motor vehicle theft. Murder is down 14 percent, and violent crime down 13.5 percent.

Some members of the community say they hope teen anti-violence summit, like one held at Malcolm X College, help by encouraging peaceful conflict resolution.

"You have to get it on the front end. That's what it's all about. So, you can de-escalate a situation from slipping over into a serious act of violence against another person," said Ceasefire Illinois Tio Hardiman.

Parent Margo Muldrow could not attend, but she remains concerned about the safety of her 16-year-old son.

"I'm scared every time he leaves the house," Muldrow said.

A sentiment shared by those who knew Reggis Washington, who say the gun violence cannot end soon enough.

"It's just crazy what happened to him. It's alright though. He's in a better place; ain't no more suffering," said victim's friend Poppy O'Neal.