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Murdered Chicago teen to get honorary street designation

Janay McFarlane 18 Chicago with her sJayden.  | Special Sun-Times Media

Janay McFarlane, 18, of Chicago with her son Jayden. | Special to Sun-Times Media

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A benefit for the child of shooting victim Janay McFarlane, who was killed in North Chicago on Feb. 15, will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. Sunday, March 24, at the Puerto Rican Society, 150 S. Sheridan Road, Waukegan.

Jayden Xavier Conaway, turns 5 months old Tuesday, March 19. Admission to the event is free, but donations of baby items are welcome.

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Updated: May 14, 2013 2:27AM

NORTH CHICAGO — There are 133 alleys in North Chicago, and one of them, a drab stretch behind Selena’s Lounge and a half-dozen apartment houses along 14th Street, is where 18-year-old Janay McFarlane was shot and killed

The Feb. 15 murder caused an uproar in the city, which has seen a spike in gun violence in recent years. McFarlane was shot the same day her younger sister sat on a stage behind President Obama as he urged tighter gun control legislation.

McFarlane, who left an infant son behind, was buried a week after she died of a single bullet to the head. The candlelight and prayer vigils held in the week after her murder have ceased. And the man accused of the shooting, Jim McPherson, 21, now sits in Lake County Jail.

But McFarlane’s family does not want the city where Janay was gunned down to forget. Joe McFarlane of Beach Park, her father, wants an honorary street sign erected as a reminder of both the young woman who was and the way she died.

“It’s saying her life wasn’t taken in vain,” McFarlane said. “It’s also a reminder for other young people. When they look up there, maybe they’ll think twice before pulling the trigger.”

The idea received preliminary approval at a committee meeting of the North Chicago City Council on Monday, March 11. Third Ward Ald. Valerie DeVost said it was “the right thing to do.”

“This was a young woman who was tragically killed in our community,” DeVost said. “She was an innocent bystander. We can’t forget what happened.”

Honorary street signs are usually reserved for city dignitaries. The bronze-colored signs sit atop regular street signs. There’s Dr. Daisy Brooks on Sherman Avenue, Pastor Eugene Roberson on Elizabeth Avenue and Ernest B. Fisher Sr., at the busy intersection at Jackson and 14th streets.

Fisher, who is alderman of the First Ward, said he has “no problem” with an honorary sign for McFarlane. If approved, the new sign will be installed just a block north of his own, at 13th Street and Jackson. A second sign will be installed a block east, at 13th and Victoria.

“Janay M. McFarlane Way” will be the first honorary street signage for a victim of gun violence in the city, and perhaps in Lake County.

“It’s something we can do to honor her but also to honor our citizens, because it was through their efforts that this crime was solved,” said North Chicago Mayor Leon Rockingham.

A man who lives near the alley where McFarlane died, said the signs will offer another reminder — “a guy with a gun in his hand.”

“You have to be careful and watch out,” said the man, who asked not to be identified.

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