A 6-month-old baby has died in a Chicago hospital after being shot five times while her father, the intended target in the shooting, was shot several times and now remains in critical condition.
Jonylah Watkins was shot along with her father Jonathan Watkins, 29, in Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood Monday afternoon, police confirmed this morning, in the latest death in the city's escalating gang violence dilemma. Baby Jonylah was transported to Comer Children's Hospital where she underwent five hours of surgery, according to ABC affiliate WLS.
The Cook County Medical Examiner's office confirmed the baby's death early Tuesday.
Jonathan Watkins is recovering from his wounds at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Garry McCarthy, Chicago's police chief, said that Watkins underwent several surgeries and is in critical but stable condition.
Officer Mike Sullivan with the Chicago police department told ABCNews.com that they gunman walked up and fired at Watkins and his child at 12:48 p.m. Monday, then fled in a waiting car.
"He walked up and ran back into a car," he said. "He fled through an adjacent lot to a blue minivan."
Investigators were searching for the vehicle but do not have any leads, Sullivan said.
Jonathan Watkins has known gang affiliations, according to Sullivan. Investigators believe that the shooting may be gang-related.
"This is another tragedy, because no child, certainly not an infant, should be a victim of gang violence," McCarthy said at a press conference today. "Although there are a lot of angles that we're pursuing, there are very strong gang overtones to this particular event."
McCarthy emphasized that the shooting was a targeted incident, saying: "It was very clear that whoever was doing this was firing at [Jonathan Watkins]."
Police have a video of the vehicle, but with Watkins in critical condition they do not have a good cooperating witness, McCarthy said.
"She's six months old. For a person to do that, what kind of heart?" Jonylah's grandmother Mary Young told WLS.
Family and friends were keeping a vigil for Baby Jonylah overnight. Relatives heard the gunfire a couple of blocks away and rushed to the scene.
"There is always someone getting shot in this neighborhood," relative Tiffany Young told WLS. "We are close together, and we know them. There are killings all the time."
Baby Jonylah is the latest death in what is becoming a deadly year for Chicago.
Hadiya Pendleton, 15, was killed January 29 when a gunman opened fire on a group of young people in a park blocks from her school on the city's South Side. Days prior, Pendleton, a drum majorette, had participated in events surrounding President Obama's second inauguration. Police said Pendleton was an innocent bystander.
Pendleton's shooting came in January among a string of recent high-profile gun crimes across the city, which is now experiencing one its highest homicide rates in 10 years -- most of which has been spurred by gang warfare.
On November 26, 15-year-old Porshe Foster, a sophomore and honor student in the city's South Side, was chatting with friends after basketball practice when someone sprayed over a dozen rounds of bullets into the group of friends. Foster died after she was shot in the back.
The city's first week of 2013 saw an average of two murders per day, after the city registered at least 500 homicides last year. In 2011, there were 435 homicides.
On Monday, Chicago police announced that they arrested 24 suspects for illegal guns and drug activity. McCarthy said that Chicago police have seized 1,300 illegal guns in the first 10 weeks of 2013.
"The fact is, this is a sobering reality that we have a lot of work to do, even though we're making progress," McCarthy said Monday. "We're not going to rest until everybody in this city has the same safety that most neighborhoods in Chicago enjoy."