Chicago police on Monday announced that they have a suspect in custody in connection with the murder of 9-year-old Janari Ricks.
Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said residents came forward and helped identify the alleged shooter, who Deenihan said opened fire on a group of men Friday evening and accidentally shot the child, who was out playing with friends in the Cabrini-Green neighborhood.
“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.
Deenihan said he expected charges to be filed against the alleged killer in the “next day or two.”
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.
Burnett said neither the alleged shooter nor the intended target actually lived in the Cabrini-Green neighborhood anymore. And during a press conference Monday at the 18th District police station on the Near North Side, Burnett implored would-be criminals to “stop coming” to the Cabrini-Green “rowhouses to do your dirt.”
“Do dirt where you live, or don’t do dirt at all,” Burnett said.
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.
Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown has faced an uphill battle trying to reduce the city’s gun violence since taking over as Chicago’s top cop in April.
In his first three full months on the job, violence has exploded, with more than 1,500 people shot since the start of May, according to police data. Chicago typically sees an increase in gun violence in the summer months, but police numbers show the gap between 2020 and previous years has been growing.
Brown has responded to the shooting surge with familiar tactics, including forming a “mobile summer unit” to respond to problem areas, and recently announcing a permanent team of officers to flood shooting hotspots.
Such saturation teams have been tried before in the city, but Brown said his plan differs from past efforts because of an included community-relations component that will help make sure the roving officers have positive connections with residents.
“The newly-created Community Safety Team … will partner with local block clubs, faith-based organizations and community leaders,” the department said in a recent press release.
Many of the victims of this year’s gun violence victims have been children.
The Chicago Tribune reports that so far this year 24 children, 10 years old and younger, had been shot in Chicago as of the end of July.
Brown said despite the high levels of violence, Chicago police have been doing good work arresting violent offenders and taking illegal guns off the street in the face of “challenges on several fronts.” Brown specifically referenced a recent incident in which an arrestee allegedly shot and wounded three Chicago police officers, and the ongoing threat of the coronavirus.
“All of this hard work after three officers were shot. In addition, we had 85 officers test positive for Covid in the month of July … for a total of 677 officers who have tested positive for Covid so far this year,” Brown said. “But our officers keep coming back, risking their lives for the residents of Chicago, to protect this city.”
According to CPD, through the first seven months of the year officers recovered more than 5,600 guns and made more than 3,700 gun arrests.
WBEZ’s Chip Mitchell contributed reporting for this story. Follow him at @ChipMitchell1.