Chicago Gang Violence: Victims, Families Share Stories

VIDEO: Julian Roman, whose brother was shot and killed, tells Diane Sawyer what he'd say to gang members.
ABCNEWS.com

"Don't shoot, I want to grow up."

It's a common phrase seen printed on signs and t-shirts in Chicago. It's also part of an initiative that started at Columbia College in Chicago, and was later adopted by several community-based organizations, which attempts to interrupt the spread of violence.

These words hit home for the families and victims who have experienced gang violence first hand, some of whom are as young as kindergartners. Many have lost loved ones in the crossfire, others have been victims themselves.

As of Oct. 18, Chicago has suffered over 2,000 shooting incidents and 419 homicides this year alone, according to the Chicago Police Department.

ABC News recently hosted a summit, moderated by "World News" anchor Diane Sawyer and ABC News correspondent Alex Perez, to bring some of the city's gang members, former gang members, victims and community organizers together to talk about the spread of gang violence, why it happens and how to stop it.

Some of the young children and mothers who participated in the summit shared their thoughts and fears about the upswing of gang violence in their hometown. These are their stories.

'Don't Shoot, I Want to Grow Up'

VIDEO: Young Chicago natives talk about their fears and growing up in violent neighborhoods.
Chicago's Kids: My Mom Fears for My Life

Young Chicago natives say they hear gun shots outside of their homes and talk about their fears of growing up in violent neighborhoods.

One of the children featured in the video on the right is 9-year-old Jaden Cotten. His father was killed in what police said was a random drive-by shooting. As of now, there are no leads in the case.

In 2011, 70 percent of Chicago's homicides went unsolved.

'Don't Shoot, I Want to Grow Up'

VIDEO: Young Chicago natives share their stories about loved ones who were shot and killed.
ABCNEWS.com
Chicago's Kids on Family Members Killed

Children shared their stories about loved ones killed in their neighborhoods, and how they are coping.

Seven-year-old Ralph Winston talked about when his grandmother was shot and killed on the street outside of an apartment building. His mother Deliah Winston said a suspected gang member walked up to her mother, who was guarding the truck holding their belongings, and shot her. She watched her die in front of her.

Deliah said she fears for her family every day and is too scared to allow her son to play outside.

'Don't Shoot, I Want to Grow Up'

VIDEO: Chicago natives talk about their sons being caught in the crossfire in their neighborhood.
Chicago Mothers Who Lost Sons to Gang Violence

Four Chicago mothers shared stories about their sons who were killed in the crossfire in their violent neighborhood.

One of the mothers is Coree Parks. Her 20-year-old son Darius was killed after a man approached his van with a gun and shot him as he tried to drive away. Darius was not affiliated with a gang. His case, like many others, remains unsolved.

'Don't Shoot, I Want to Grow Up'

VIDEO: Young Chicago natives share their thoughts on the violence in their hometown.
Chicago's Kids on What Can Be Done

Growing up in Chicago, young children give their thoughts and pleas to stop the shootings in their hometown. All of them said if gangs weren't in their neighborhoods, their lives would be different.

One of the children, 5-year-old Desiree, said if she could, she would tell gang members, "stop trying to hurt other people...you already hurt my daddy, now you're trying to hurt other people."

Desiree's father was shot and killed at a party in August 2009. She is now raised part-time by her mother and part-time by her grandmother.

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