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Father, baby shot while in van parked on Chicago street

(MCT) CHICAGO — A father was changing his infant daughter’s diaper in a parked minivan when a gunman walked up and shot both Monday afternoon in the Woodlawn neighborhood of Chicago, police said.

The 6-month-old girl, identified by family members as Jonylah Watkins, underwent hours of surgery at Comer Children’s Hospital after she was shot in her right shoulder and a bullet lodged in her left thigh, police said. A police spokesman wasn’t sure if she had been shot once or twice. She remained in critical condition Monday evening, according to a Fire Department spokesman.

Her father, Jonathan Watkins, 29, was shot in his left side and right buttock and sustained a graze wound to the face, police said. He was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in serious-to-critical condition, the Fire Department said.

Police said the gunman emerged on foot from a gangway shortly before 1 p.m. and opened fire. Watkins was shot as he stood by the minivan’s open front passenger door changing a diaper on his daughter as she lay on the seat, they said.

The gunman fled to a nearby parking lot and jumped into a blue conversion van, which sped north through an alley, police said. Police were scouring the area for surveillance footage.

Jonylah’s aunt, Dominique Young, 21, said that she and other relatives were walking in the area when they heard about 10 “big gun shots.” They started calling around to check on family members but couldn’t reach Watkins.

Other family members said the girl’s 20-year-old mother was at work at a McDonald’s when the shooting happened.

A relative of the victims told police that someone had threatened to shoot Watkins on a Facebook posting before the shooting, police said.

The baby’s grandmother, Maryann Young, described the baby as a “fun-loving girl.”

Watkins has a criminal record that includes two felony convictions, including a 2007 weapons offense for which he was sentenced to three years in prison, according to court records.

Pastor Corey Brooks of New Beginnings Church in Woodlawn announced that his church would offer up to $5,000 for information leading police to the gunman.

More than two dozen shootings occurred within a few blocks of Monday’s shooting during 2012, city crime statistics show. But through February 2013, the area has seen far fewer shootings than during the same two-month period in 2012.

Down the street from the shooting site on Monday, Sedell Brown watched her two grandchildren, 12 and 13, walk to her apartment from school. Brown, 54, who has lived in the area for 3 ½ years, doesn’t let the two play outdoors.

“It don’t make sense how they kill people around here,” she said.


Tribune reporter Liam Ford contributed to this report.


©2013 Chicago Tribune

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