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16-year-old girl killed among 7 dead, 35 wounded in weekend violence

Shakaki Afbay (right)   who was shot front porch are2011 W. 70th Place Chicago.   On left is

Shakaki Afbay (on right) who was shot on the front porch area of 2011 W. 70th Place in Chicago. On the left is her sister Shakiyah . | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times

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Updated: July 19, 2012 6:20AM

Shakaki Asphy’s family says the 16-year-old girl was at the wrong place at the wrong time when she was murdered over the weekend in West Englewood on the South Side.

Judging by the level of crime in the area, it would be difficult to figure out the right place to be.

At about 7 p.m. Saturday, the Harper High School student was on the porch of a home in the 2000 block of West 70th Place with friends. Someone in a gray hoodie ran through a gangway and opened fire, killing Shakaki and wounding Leon Cunningham, 18.

Asphy was among the seven people killed and Cunningham was among at least 35 people wounded in Chicago from Friday night though Sunday.

Cunningham was paralyzed a few years ago when he was shot while sitting on the porch of his nearby home. He was in his wheelchair on the sidewalk when he was wounded Saturday, his mother said.

“It’s crazy,” said Della Cunningham. “An innocent girl got shot and my son got shot again — for no reason.”

But the area’s litany of violence doesn’t end there.

It was on the same block that a 10-year-old girl, Siretha White, was shot to death on a porch while she celebrated her surprise birthday party in 2006. And a block away, two men were found shot to death in a car in 2010.

Neighbors say gunfire is part of the background noise on these streets near Damon and 71st.

Albert Chambers, 69, lives next door to the boarded-up home where Shakaki was killed. He heard the shots and ran outside to see her lying on the porch in a pool of blood. Chambers said a stray bullet struck the light fixture on his front porch. The fixture was hanging sideways Sunday.

“What if I was standing there? Could have been me, too.”

Chambers said the shooting is not an “everyday thing. But there’s a lot of criminal activity going on.”

He said he’s lived on the block for more than seven years and doesn’t have any plans to move — despite the problems.

“I’m an old Marine, and they better respect me,” he said. “But there’s no respect for mom or dad or sister or brother here.”

Della Cunningham said she doesn’t plan to move anytime soon, either. She pointed to an expensive wheelchair ramp built for her son on the front of her house. She also said she had a special bathroom designed for him.

“I can’t pay for that somewhere else,” she said.

Shakaki’s family said they’ve noticed the area has grown more dangerous in recent years.

“This neighborhood got terrible,” said her aunt, Brianna Goolsby, 25. “The gangs have taken over. The police (are) always around here. I can’t say it’s their fault. But I can’t say what can be done around here.”

Goolsby said her niece loved basketball and played on a team at Harper. She would have been a junior in the fall.

“It’s so tragic,” Goolsby said. “She was such a nice young lady, and not a bad student. It’s too much to take.”

Police said they believe the shooting may have stemmed from a conflict among rival factions of the Gangster Disciples street gang.

But people on the block where the shooting happened said they believe it was a case of mistaken identity. Earlier in the day, there was gunfire at a nearby gas station at the corner of Damen and 71st and the shooter may have been seeking revenge, one resident said.

“Whatever caused this, it’s gotta stop,” he said.

Citywide, murder is up about 35 percent so far this year. But in Englewood, there hasn’t been much of a change: 19 killings through June 3, compared to 18 for the same period of 2011.

There hasn’t been a huge spike in shootings, either: 101 of them through June 3, compared to 91 for the same period of 2011.

Still, Englewood remains one of the most violent areas of the city, according to police statistics.

The Ogden District on the West Side was the only one in the city with more murders than Englewood — recording 24 homicides through June 3.

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