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6-month-old girl dies after after she, dad are shot in Woodlawn

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Updated: April 13, 2013 6:25AM



A 6-month old girl died early Tuesday, the day after she and her father were shot while he changed her diaper, a source said.

Jonylah Watkins suffered five gunshot wounds when a gunman took aim at her father on a Woodlawn neighborhood street.

Jonathan Watkins was standing on the curb on the 6500 block of South Maryland, using the front passenger seat of a minivan as a changing table, when a gunman emerged unnoticed from a gangway behind him and opened fire, hitting Watkins and his baby.

It was the infant’s second brush with gun violence. Her mother, Judy Watkins, 20, was shot in the knee when she was eight months pregnant with Jonylah, less than three blocks from Monday’s shooting.

On Monday, minutes after the shooting at 12:50 p.m., a police escort cleared the way for the ambulance carrying Jonylah to Comer Children’s Hospital, a measure usually seen only when a police officer is shot.

The Rev. Corey Brooks, acting as a Watkins family spokesman, said Jonylah was shot five times: in her lungs, liver, bowel, leg and shoulder.

Jonathan Watkins, who relatives said was in his late 20s, was shot in the side and buttocks and suffered a graze wound to his cheek. He was in critical condition at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, according to police.

After the shooting, the gunman ran across a vacant lot, hopped into a blue van and drove north.

Police were investigating whether the shooting may have been prompted by an angry post on Facebook, a source told the Chicago Sun-Times. Tiffany Young, 31, one of Judy Watkins’ sisters, said she didn’t know anything about a possible Facebook feud.

Jonathan Watkins and his daughter had been visiting friends in the neighborhood when the shooting occurred, said Mary Young, the baby’s maternal grandmother.

Family members struggled to understand how anybody could gun down a little baby.

“There’s too much shooting over there,” Mary Young said. “She’s none but 6 months old. How could anybody — what kind of heart?”

Dominique Young, one of Judy Watkins’ sisters said: “The person who did this, they need to turn themselves in. They were really trying to hurt” someone.

Asked about reports from police that Jonathan Watkins has gang ties, Brooks responded, saying: “We’re dealing with a family man with a wife and a child. We have no idea about any gang-banging.”

After her daughter survived surgery, Judy Watkins clung to a purple balloon that read, “Get well soon,” as Brooks said: “We need everybody praying. This mother is hurt, traumatized. We need this baby to live.”

Brooks said people were passing out fliers near 67th and Maryland seeking information about the shooting.

“We are not going to stop until we catch the people responsible,” he said.

Earlier Monday evening, Brooks said his church is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to arrest of the gunman.

“Any time you shoot someone, it’s a cowardly act. For a baby to be shot, it’s despicable,” he said.

Judy Watkins, who had recently married Jonathan, was finishing a shift at a McDonald’s restaurant when she heard her husband and daughter had been shot.

Neighbors said gunfire is common in the area.

Sedell Brown, 54, ushered her two granddaughters inside around the corner from the crime scene as they walked home from school.

“I don’t even let them go outside,” said Brown, who plans to move the family to a safer neighborhood. “I’m already packing. . . . I’m praying that I live to see 55. They shot a 6-month-old baby. You know they wouldn’t give a damn about me.”

Through a shattered window of the beige minivan where Jonylah was shot, a pink bag containing what appeared to be baby formula, clothes and diapers, could be seen on the back seat.



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