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Activists helped bring arrest in senseless killing

Updated: July 16, 2014 6:30AM



We need to give credit where credit is due with respect to the arrest of a suspect for the brazen shooting that killed teacher Betty Howard.

Dominique Hodrick, 23, an alleged gang member, has been charged with Howard’s death. Police allege Hodrick was aiming at a passing car when bullets ripped through a real estate office in Chatham where the 58-year-old special education teacher was working a second job.

Howard’s family offered an $8,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction. Hodrick was arrested a week after the shooting.

But I’m not convinced that the reward money is what made the difference.

Although there is a widespread perception that rogue shooters are operating with immunity on the South and West sides, that’s not always the case.

Several days before Hodrick’s arrest, community activists, Wallace “Gator” Bradley, founder of “United in Peace” and Andrew Holmes, an anti-violence activist, circulated a flier bearing Hodrick’s name and photograph as a “person of interest” in the case:

“This brother’s name is ringing in the streets as a person of interest in the shootings at 700 E. 7th . . . People who may know this brother please call this number or have him call this number 1-800-U Tellus (883-5587),”the flier read.

“We all can Aide and Assist in this righteous endeavor to turn the tide against senseless shootings and killings of African Americans by other African-Americans.”

I couldn’t get a straight answer from the Chicago Police Department news affairs last Monday when I raised questions about the flier.

Adam Collins, director of news affairs, sent this response by email:

“CPD detectives continue to investigate this tragic case, and are seeking to speak with a number of individuals for a variety of reasons. Tips from the residents or witnesses are extremely helpful to detectives,” Collins said.

Obviously, circulating a person’s photo and name “as a person of interest” in a high-profile shooting case, when that person hasn’t been charged with a crime, could have backfired.

After all, Illinois is notorious for wrongful convictions based on false confessions, recanting witnesses and questionable police work.

But when I talked to Holmes and Bradley, both men were confident that the information they’d been given was reliable.

“We are working the streets and sharing what we know with officials,” Holmes told me.

Bradley, who has been trying to sell the idea that former gang chief Larry Hoover is working from behind bars to stop the violence, claims “brothers on the street” helped identify Hodrick as the alleged shooter.

“Now, it’s on the court system to find out if he is innocent or guilty, but at least the community finds some comfort in knowing we were able to get this man off the street,” Bradley said.

Bradley, a former gang member, also said this wouldn’t be the first time gang members have helped snag an alleged shooter.

“We did the same thing with Hadiya Pendleton and with Blair Holt,” Bradley said.

Hadiya was killed on Jan. 29, 2013 when reputed gang members fired at students in a park. Two weeks later, two teens, who were reputed gang members, were arrested and charged with Hadiya’s murder.

Blair was gunned down in 2007 when a then 16-year-old alleged gang member opened fire on a crowded bus, killing Blair and wounding four others. The teen shooter was convicted and sentenced to 100 years in prison.

“Our community has to draw a line in the sand when it comes to these senseless shootings. We all have to work together. When black men stand up, boys will sit down,” Bradley said.

We should take note that the “no-snitch” code apparently did not apply in this case.

Moreover, the courage these activists showed by calling out Howard’s alleged killer is no trifling thing.

Email: marym@suntimes.com

Twitter: @MaryMitchellCST



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