Depending on where you’re from, summertime means a few different things. While school’s out all over the country, the heat, combined with more people hanging out on the streets in some places, means crime will take a dangerous spike. While some of us enjoy the lazy days of summer, others are living under the constant threat of violence.
Chicago is no stranger to violent crime. Over the last year, the City of Broad Shoulders has seen a dramatic spike in the murder rate, clocking in at about 252 homicides this year. According to the mayor, the leading culprit behind Chicago’s exploding murder rate: Gangs that struggle for turf and use guns to settle conflicts.
Of course, innocent bystanders are often caught in the crosshairs, which is exactly what happened to 7-year-old Heaven Sutton.
Heaven and her mother were just about to close down a candy stand they’d opened in their front yard when two men began shooting. Although Heaven tried to run inside of her house, she was stuck in her back and later died at the hospital.
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Police believe the shooting was gang-related and that Heaven was unintentionally caught in the conflict. A 19-year-old man was also wounded in the shooting.
Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel placed the blame for Heaven’s murder squarely on the shoulders of the city’s gang members. “This is not about crime. This is about values. Take your gang conflict away from a 7-year-old,” Emanuel told reporters.
“You have a 7-year-old selling lemonade,” the Chicago Tribune reported. “Where were you raised and who raised you? Stay away from the kids.”
Ironically, Heaven’s mother, Ashake Banks, says she opened the candy stand in her yard to keep other kids in the area safe. Her West Side neighborhood has experienced several shootings, and she wanted to make sure kids didn’t get caught in the violence attempting to walk to the store.
So far, no arrests have been made, and a group of local ministers is offering a $3,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of Heaven’s murderer.