Girl, 6, shot to death in South Side living room
By David Roeder Staff Reporter August 7, 2011 8:46AM
Six-year-old Arianna Gibson was shot and killed Sunday morning while in the living room of her in Englewood. photo courtesy of the Gibson family.
Updated: September 9, 2011 12:38AM
The 7400 block of South Sangamon had a street party Saturday night and little Arianna Gibson didn’t want to miss it.
The 6-year-old was all giggly over spending the weekend with her grandmother, who lives on the block, and playing with friends at the party.
The kids drew chalk drawings on the pavement, bounced in a jumping-jack and wolfed down cupcakes. It was the kind of neighborly event that residents said has made the block feel like a refuge from the violence that surrounds them in Englewood.
Then the kids were packed off to bed. Shortly after dawn, the block was a refuge no more.
Perhaps two or three people slowly approached the house where Arianna, her grandmother and several friends were on a sleepover. They stood on the front stoop of the brick bungalow about 6:15 a.m. and peered inside at sleeping or barely stirring forms in the living room.
Someone fired shots through the window. People inside said they counted six or seven blasts.
Arianna Gibson was hit in the chest and leg. She was pronounced dead about an hour later at University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital.
Two others were wounded and were hospitalized in serious condition. Police and occupants of the home said they are a 17-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl.
No one was in custody later Sunday, police said.
Linda Chatman, who lives in the home, said she heard the gunshots while returning from the bathroom. “There were several kids in my house for the sleepover. I started throwing the kids toward the bedroom so they’d be safe,” she said.
That’s when she saw Arianna lying on her stomach. “She was just a sweet little girl” who would have started school Monday, Chatman said.
She said the injured teenaged girl is her daughter and the victim of a leg wound.
Arianna’s grandmother, Christine Collins, could barely compose herself to speak about the death. “I heard three shots and I fell on the floor,” she said. The child “begged me to come over here [for the weekend] ’cause she’s got friends here,” Collins said.
Some young men on the block mentioned retaliation. But only one talked to reporters, and that was to suddenly announce the names of three people he believed committed the crime.
The information was later given to a police officer inside the Chatman home. As the officer left, one man called him by name and said, “Remember my face.”
An uncle of the girl, Jimmie Williams, said Arianna lived elsewhere on the South Side. “It’s just a very, very sad day for everyone,” he said, commenting that the child’s mother was to have picked her up for church Sunday morning. Instead, she was grieving her daughter at the hospital.
Neighbors said nothing happened at the block party that could have provoked the shooting. “We’re a very cohesive block,” said Traci Nevels, who said she helped organize the event. “It’s the riff-raff that comes here and causes trouble.”
Another neighbor commented that the block is so peaceful that it hangs on to it residents. “The children grow up and they come back here. I guess they feel safe,” she said.
Sunday morning, a passing storm washed away the children’s chalk artwork from the night before. But it couldn’t cleanse the alleys of their gang graffiti or douse the glowering anger in the eyes of young men on South Sangamon.