By JEFF MAYES
Chicago Sun-Times Wire
While it did not become official until Wednesday morning, this August has been the deadliest month in Chicago in nearly 20 years. En route to reaching that 80th homicide of the month this week, at least 22 people were homicide victims last week, including three girls 7 and younger killed when someone set fire to the apartment building they lived in on the South Side.
Not since October of 1997 had there been so much violence in a single month. It is just another grim milestone in a year that is rapidly approaching the 500-homicide mark, which meaning CHicago will likely top its total for all of last year in just over eight months.
The deaths of three girls and man after a South Chicago neighborhood apartment building fire were ruled homicides by the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
The blaze was first reported at 1:36 a.m. Tuesday in the three-story, courtyard apartment building in the 8100 block of South Essex, according to the Chicago Fire Department. It was upgraded to a three-alarm fire by 1:53 a.m.
A 3-month-old girl who lived in the building, Melanie Watson, was taken to Comer Children’s Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 2:40 a.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. An autopsy showed she died from injuries from a fall from height, and carbon monoxide toxicity.
The other two girls — Madison Watson, 4, and Shaniya Staples, 7 — and 56-year-old Kirk Johnson, were found dead inside the building after the fire was extinguished. Autopsies ruled they died of thermal injuries and carbon monoxide toxicity.
On Thursday, police said they released a “person of interest” who had been questioned in connection with the fire. No charges have yet been filed.
- The week’s final homicide was a 20-year-old man shot to death Sunday afternoon in Austin. About 4:20 p.m., Terrence Murphy was on a sidewalk near his home in the 5400 block of West Jackson when someone walked up and shot him in the abdomen, according to police and the medical examiner’s office. Murphy was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he died minutes later.
- A man has been charged with the fatal shooting of another man during an attempted robbery Sunday morning in the South Loop. Robert Burgess, 56, has been charged with first-degree murder for the 10:04 a.m. shooting in the 1800 block of South Michigan, according to police.
William C. Smith, 45, of the 1900 block of South Indiana, was found in an alley with a gunshot wound to the head, according to police and the medical examiner’s office. Smith was pronounced dead at the scene.
A witness told investigators they had heard an argument and then a single shot, police said. They used video from two nearby cameras to identify Burgess’ vehicle, in which they found the murder weapon, prosecutors said. He is being held without bond.
- A 38-year-old man was shot to death early Sunday in the East Garfield Park neighborhood. Omar Kent had just parked his vehicle about 12:35 a.m. in the 3600 block of West Fifth Avenue when five males walked up, one of whom pulled out a gun and opened fire, according to police and the medical examiner’s office. Kent was shot in the head, and was pronounced dead at the scene.
- Three people were shot, one fatally, early Sunday in West Garfield Park. About 12:15 a.m., officers on patrol near the 4400 block of West Monroe heard gunfire and found 30-year-old Demarco Richards on the ground with a gunshot wound to the head, according to police and the medical examiner’s office.
Richards was pronounced dead at the scene. An 18-year-old woman was shot in the left foot and was taken to Stroger Hospital in good condition. A 25-year-old man later arrived at Stroger with gunshot wounds to his buttocks and right ankle. His condition stabilized, police said.
- Mahdi Herring was killed and two other people wounded in a shooting Saturday afternoon in the Park Manor neighborhood. The three were arguing with a group of people about 12:15 p.m. in the 7100 block of South Rhodes when someone in the group pulled out a gun and fired at them before running away, according to police.
Herring, 19, was shot in the head and was driven by friends to Jackson Park Hospital. He was later transferred to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 2:36 p.m., according to the medical examiner’s office and police. A 17-year-old boy was shot in the thigh and was taken to Stroger Hospital in good condition, police said. The third victim, a 35-year-old man, was shot in the neck and took himself to Provident Hospital, where he was listed in good condition.
- Two men were shot — one fatally — in the West Pullman neighborhood early Saturday. The two, ages 21 and 24, were driving home in an alley in the 500 block of West 127th Street about 3:35 a.m. when a male with dreadlocks shot them from inside a blue truck, according to police. The younger man, Dylan N. Dent, was shot in the shoulder and was taken to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he was pronounced dead. He lived on the block where he was shot. The other man was shot in the leg and was taken to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where his condition stabilized.
- A 16-year-old boy died Friday night, about eight months after being shot in the Englewood neighborhood. Corey Strothers Jr. was 15 at the time of the Dec. 22, 2015, shooting in the 5900 block of South Princeton, according to police and the medical examiner’s office.
About 9:45 p.m. that night, Strothers was walking near his home when someone walked up, shot him in the neck and back, and took off in an SUV, authorities said. The boy was taken to Stroger Hospital after the shooting. He died at Lurie Children’s Hospital at 11:15 p.m. Friday, authorities said.
Swonn Herron, 23, was arrested and charged with attempted murder about three weeks after the shooting. He remains in the Cook County Jail on a $750,000 bond and is due in court again Sept. 9, according to the Cook County sheriff’s office.
- A 55-year-old man was killed in a shooting Friday evening in the Uptown neighborhood, police said. At 6:13 p.m., the victim was in the 900 block of West Wilson when a male began shooting at another male, and he was struck in the chest, police said. He was not the intended target of the shooting. He was taken to Illinois Masonic Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. The medical examiner’s office had not released the victim’s name as of Wednesday morning.
- Ramon M. Tolbert was shot to death in the Galewood neighborhood Friday evening. Tolbert, 35, was standing on a corner at 6:12 p.m. in the 1500 block of North Meade Avenue when a male got out of a vehicle and approached him shooting, according to police and the medical examiner’s office. The shooter then got back in the vehicle and drove away. Tolbert was shot in the head and chest, and was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
- Nykea Aldridge, cousin of NBA star Dwyane Wade, was fatally shot while pushing her baby in a stroller in the Parkway Gardens neighborhood Friday afternoon.
About 3:30 p.m., Aldridge, 32, was walking with a baby in a stroller and a man in the 6300 block of South Calumet when two male suspects walked up and fired shots at a third man, according to police.
Aldridge, of the 6400 block of South King Drive, was taken to Stroger Hospital with gunshot wounds to the head and arm, and was pronounced dead 45 minutes later, according to police and the medical examiner’s office. Police said Aldridge was not the intended target.
On Sunday, Derren Sorells, 22; and his bother, Darwin Sorells Jr., 26, were both charged with first degree murder and attempted first degree murder. Police said both men were on parole at the time of the shooting.
- A 28-year-old man who was considered a rising star in the Mixed Martial Arts scene was shot to death Wednesday morning in Englewood. Travis Allen was sitting in a vehicle with friends in the 5700 block of South Emerald at 10:54 a.m. when they heard gunshots, according to police and the medical examiner’s office. They got out of the vehicle and started running, and Allen was shot multiple times in the torso, police said. Allen was taken to Stroger Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 11:32 a.m. He lived on the same block where the shooting happened.
- Rashon Purnell was shot to death early Wednesday on the block where he lived in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. Family members identify the 24-year-old as Rashon Nichols. Hewas sitting in a vehicle at 4:13 a.m. in the 5400 block of South Bishop when he was shot in the chest, neck and arm, according to police. He was pronounced dead at the scene, and an autopsy showed he died of multiple gunshot wounds.
- A 37-year-old man was found shot to death Tuesday night in the North Lawndale neighborhood. Officers responding about 9:40 p.m. to a call of a person shot in the 3900 block of West 14th Street found Johnell Johnson lying on the ground in an alley, according to police and the medical examiner’s office. Johnson was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy found he died of multiple gunshot wounds.
- A man was found shot to death Tuesday night in the Ashburn neighborhood. Officers responding to a call of shots fired shortly before 7 p.m. found 22-year-old Victor Mata lying in a yard in the 7900 block of South Kirkland, according to police and the medical examiner’s office. Neighbors had heard gunfire and called authorities. Mata was shot several times in the chest and was pronounced dead at the scene.
- A woman shot in the Little Village neighborhood Tuesday evening died after she was brought to a hospital in west suburban Oak Park. Tykina Ali, 20, was brought to West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park at 6:44 p.m., authorities said. Investigators learned she had been a passenger in a vehicle in the 2600 block of South Kedzie when someone in another vehicle nearby fired shots, striking her in the head. Ali was then driven to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
- A man was killed and another man wounded in a South Shore neighborhood shooting Tuesday afternoon. It happened about 3:20 p.m. in the 7500 block of South Phillips, according to police. Christopher Hibbler, 42, of the 8200 block of South Saginaw, was shot repeatedly in the chest, and was pronounced dead at the scene=, according to police and the medical examiner’s office. A 27-year-old man suffered a graze wound to the back, and was taken to Jackson Park Hospital, where his condition was stabilized.
- A 20-year-old man died Monday evening after being critically wounded in a shooting Sunday morning in East Garfield Park. Mario Cousins, 20, was sitting on a porch in the 3600 block of West Lexington about 6:45 a.m. when a male walked up and shot him in the head, according to police and the medical examiner’s office. He was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he died at 6:12 p.m. Monday.
- A 68-year-old man was fatally shot by his wife Monday morning during a domestic dispute in the Douglas neighborhood, according to the COok County state’s attorney’s office. Booker T. Parrow was fatally shot by 74-year-old Sharnett Perkins-Parrow in the 2600 block of South Indiana just after 10 a.m., according to police and prosecutors.
After shooting him, she allegedly asked a maintenance man to take her to a hospital, because she was not feeling well. She did not seek help for her husband. Perkins-Parrow, wheelchair-bound and suffering from COPD, was ordered on a $2 million bond, but could be released on electronic monitoring.