Prosecutors Say The Alleged Killer Of A 9-Year-Old Boy ‘Went Hunting’ In Cabrini-Green

Chicago police car
Bill Healy / WBEZ
Chicago police car
Bill Healy / WBEZ

Prosecutors Say The Alleged Killer Of A 9-Year-Old Boy ‘Went Hunting’ In Cabrini-Green

Cook County Judge Susana Ortiz on Tuesday ordered Darrell Johnson, 39, of Chicago’s Brighton Park neighborhood, held in jail without bond while he awaits trial for allegedly shooting and killing 9-year-old Janari Ricks.

Prosecutors said Johnson “went hunting” Friday evening in the Cabrini-Green neighborhood and shot at a person who was standing near the child, striking Janari in the back and arm.

Johnson is charged with first-degree murder, and prosecutors said they plan to add a charge of attempted murder to account for the person he was allegedly trying to shoot.

Johnson’s attorney, Nick Burris, who is part of the law firm of high-profile attorney Steve Greenberg, argued that his client deserved a reasonable bail, because with electronic monitoring and the high-profile nature of the case, “it would be next to impossible for him to go out and commit” another crime.

Ortiz rejected that argument and ordered Johnson held in jail, saying there were no bail conditions that would “ensure the safety of the community” if Johnson was released.

Prosecutors said they identified Johnson as the shooter based on surveillance footage and several witnesses.

The Chicago Police Department’s Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said at a press conference Monday that residents came forward and helped identify the alleged shooter.

“We’re not in this position without the help of a community who came forward and gave us information which allowed us to actually identify and arrest the suspect. So all the video in the world and all the hard work of the detectives, we’re not able to arrest a suspect unless the community comes forward and actually helps us,” Deenihan said.

Ald. Walter Burnett, who represents the area where Janari was killed, said he grew up next to some of the child’s family and said he was “very disturbed” by the shooting.

“I’m so happy that people stood up and [did] not allow for this young person to just get killed and nobody get blamed for it. I’m glad that people stood up and came to the plate. And we need to stand up more,” Burnett said Monday’s press conference.

Janari was killed at the end of a particularly violent month, that was the deadliest July in at least 63 years, according to a WBEZ analysis of Chicago Police Department data.

According to the Chicago Police Department, shootings and murders are up about 50% through the first seven months of 2020, compared to the same time period last year.

Also on Tuesday, Ortiz denied bail to Terrell Boyd, 30, of Racine, Wisc., who is awaiting trial for his alleged role in a July 4 shooting that killed 7-year-old Natalia Wallace.

Prosecutors said Boyd was one of three men who got out of a car and shot toward “a parkway full of children” in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood.

Patrick Smith is a reporter on WBEZ’s Criminal Justice Desk. Follow him @pksmid. Email him at psmith@wbez.org.

WBEZ’s Chip Mitchell contributed reporting for this story. Follow him at @ChipMitchell1.