Man questioned in restaurant shooting

December 29, 2011 (CHICAGO)

The gunfire killed two Chicago high school students.

Police have a 23-year-old suspect in custody.

The families of the two teens who were killed in the Church's Chicken restaurant near 66th and Halsted are pleading for the violence to stop and for justice to be done.

Through her pain, the mother of 17-year-old Dantril Brown offered a kind gesture to the person who killed her son, saying she was not mad. Brown was a junior at Prosser Career Academy. He wanted to be a cook. He was looking forward to getting a car, his mother said.

"You took my dreams away. My baby ain't going to have no baby," said mom Regina Brown.

Jawan Ross, 16, was a sophomore at Robeson High School. He dreamed of playing professional basketball. His mother sent him to the restaurant to get something to eat.

"It's hard, and they don't know it is hard when you take someone's kid from them. They don't know how a person feels," said mom Willamae Jackson.

Families and friends of the two teens held separate vigils outside the closed restaurant Wednesday. On Tuesday night, investigators say two people got into an argument outside. One chased the other inside and started shooting, wounding five and killing the two teens. It's still not known if the shooter's target is among the victims, but relatives of Ross and Brown say they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"He is not even a man yet. He is still a young man, still in school and someone took his life like it was a joke," said Michael Howard, one victim's uncle.

On Thursday, friends and relatives of the two murder victims came back to the Church's Chicken to sign cards and mourn. They're also angry about new numbers that show there's been 56 murders in Englewood, a 40 percent increase from 2010.

"That's too much," said Lorraine Walker, a friend of one of the victims. "I got two kids. I stay in the house because we don't want to get shot and on each corner."

When looking at citywide numbers, Chicago's 2011 number of 419 murders is still half the number it was 40 years ago. This year's numbers are down 2 percent compared to 2010. But Chicago's murder rate is still reportedly higher than New York and Los Angeles.

"Ask the people in englewood if they feel 2 percent safer," said Fraternal Order of Police spokesman Pat Camden.

Camden said an effort to put more beat cops on the street is good. But in order to do that, police Supt. Garry McCarthy had to cut cops from units which target and break up gangs.

"You know, sometimes you hear the crime rate is going down, but being this is Englewood, it's real alarming. It seems like the kids are getting younger and younger," said Curtis Toler, Englewood resident.

Outspoken community activist Fr. Michael Pfleger says some of the keys to change are jobs and better schools.

"I don't think we can police our way out of this. Police are important, and we need police, but I'm not one of those that keeps looking for more police on the street," he said.

Pfleger looks at the dedication wall outside St. Sabina Church, where dozens of pictures showing young faces fill the board, all lost in violent crime around Englewood.

"Nobody gets a pass in this," Pfleger said. "People say, 'Isn't it horrific about the churches?' I say, 'What are you doing? You know, what are you doing? What school are you going into? What community center are you going to? What child on your block are you reaching out to?'"

Derrion Magee came to 66th and Halsted where a memorial is growing for the victims of the restaurant shooting. He grew up in the area and said he believes the neighborhood is not hopeless.

"I think there's hope. As long as there's a God, there is hope," he said.

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy released a statement regarding those new statistics. He says while the city has made a lot of progress, there's still a lot of work that needs to be done. He says he will not be satisfied until the murder rates go down in all communities throughout the city.

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