BY JESSICA KOSCIELNIAK AND EMILY BROSIOUS
Homicide Watch Chicago
Ja-Quez Williams wanted to become a police officer to stop the violence in his Austin community, his family said.
The violence Ja-Quez, 17, longed to stop took his life before he ever got that chance when he was fatally shot in the head in the 5500 block of West North Avenue about 2:05 a.m. April 26, authorities said.
“He was a beautiful, vibrant person — full of life,” said his grandmother, Inez Williams said. “It was a senseless thing, I really don’t understand. No children should be gunned down like cattle.”
Inez Williams raised her grandson from a young age, she said. The two shared a bedroom and prayed together at the end of the day.
Each night before drifting off to sleep he’d say, “Goodnight grandma,” Inez Williams said.
Prosecutors said Frederick Woods-Rivas, 23, walked up to a group standing outside and shot Ja-Quez in the back of the head. Judge Peggy Chiampas ordered Woods-Rivas held without bond.
Ja-Quez, of the 5400 block of West North Avenue, died at the scene, according to Cook County medical examiner’s office.
Ja-Quez had gone out to get a submarine sandwich and was waiting for his uncle to pick him up when he was gunned down, his grandmother said.
Inez Williams said the neighborhood is infested with gang activity, but claims Ja-Quez was not a gang member.
She has been weary of the gun violence in her neighborhood, but never expected it to affect her directly.
“Older guys, the ones that run the area over there, tased him and threw him in a car and tried to make him and the younger boys do things,” Inez Williams said. “They tell them they won’t go to jail because they’re minors.”
Inez Williams said her grandson wasn’t a violent person and was afraid of the gang members who threatened him for trying to avoid the gang lifestyle.
“There’s just too much violence and kids shouldn’t have to live like that,” she said. “It’s so prevalent in the city.”
After the shooting, Mayor Rahm Emanuel called Inez Williams with condolences for the loss of her grandson, she said.
“I was surprised he called because I was feeling so hurt and I didn’t know really which way to turn,” she said. “He said when children are getting gunned down like that, we’ve got to do something together.”
Inez Williams hopes Emanuel can develop strategies to stop the violence.
“Young people with guns need to understand the real impact of their actions and empathize with the pain they cause victims’ family and loved ones,” she said.