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Lincoln Park, Old Town

After 9-Year-Old Killed, Fed-Up Witnesses Come Forward, Leading To Quick Arrest: ‘Without The Community, We Can’t Do Our Job’

A feud between two men whose families have known each other for nearly 50 years led to the shooting, Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. said.

Left: Chicago Police officials speak at a press conference Monday. Right: Janari Ricks, 9, and his mother Jalisa Ford.
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CHICAGO — A suspect has been arrested in the murder of 9-year-old Janari Ricks and the Cabrini Green community played a key role in the arrest, Chicago Police officials said Monday.

Speaking at a press conference Monday, Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said a suspect is in custody and police are working with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office to determine charges.

Deenihan said the main reason for the quick arrest was neighbors who spoke up.

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

Police say around 6 p.m. Friday, the shooter drove to the 900 block of North Cambridge Street, got out of his car on foot and from a gangway shot at an intended target he missed, Deenihan said.

Instead, 9-year-old Janari, who was playing outside near his home, was shot several times before the suspect took off, police said. Paramedics took Janari to Lurie Children’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 7 p.m., police said.

Alderman Walter Burnett Jr. (27th), who grew up in Cabrini Green and knew Ricks’ family, said a feud between two men whose families have known each other for nearly 50 years led to the shooting. The two men no longer live in the row houses where the shooting occurred, the alderman said.

“All of the assumed people that was involved with this incident all know each other,” Burnett said. “As a matter of fact, their families have known each other for over 50 years, so I empathize with the parents of the children who did what they did but although they all come from the neighborhood, they don’t live there anymore…The guy the guy was shooting at and the guy that was doing the shooting, neither one live over there. The violence did not come from people who live in the row houses.” 

Police Supt. David Brown also said police could not have made an arrest without community members coming forward. 

“Without the community, we can’t do our job. We need the community to help us whenever we have violence to be able to solve these crimes,” Brown said.

Brown said the trust between neighbors and police, long-fractured on the South and West Sides, is “tenuous” and needs to be continually worked on. Brown said he hopes other communities look to this situation as an example where the community and police worked together to bring someone to justice.

“Many communities lack trust completely that we have to build from ground zero…I would encourage those communities that don’t have a sense of trust to look at this community as an example of how they can be made safer by bringing violent criminal offenders to justice and off the streets of Chicago,” Brown said.

Asked about witness protection, something that’s been a concern and often-cited reason for reluctance in the past, Brown said the U.S. Marshall Service runs a witness protection program in the Chicago and the Chicago Police have systems in place. Speaking up is the best way to keep your neighbors safe, he said.

“I know the thoughts are, ‘I’m safer because now the suspect is not focusing on me.’ But these suspects running the streets of Chicago kill other people, likely kill the people near you. So, the fact that you don’t come forward renders you less safe,” Brown said.

“I would encourage you to take a leap of faith and come forward to Chicago PD if you have any information on any violent crime so that we could all be safer by taking these people off the street.”

Janari was one of 24 children under 10 years old shot in Chicago this year and five killed, according to an analysis from the Chicago Tribune published Monday.

Among other cases, last Thursday, an 8-year-old boy was among two shot in Altgeld Gardens in the Far South Side, according to the Sun-Times.

On July 27, a baby was shot and critically wounded while riding in a car on the Bishop Ford Expressway in the Far South Side.

On July 22, a 3-year-old girl was shot and seriously wounded in South Shore.

On July 16, a 5-month-old baby was wounded in a shooting in Old Town when a bullet grazed his eye.

On June 30, a 3-year-old girl was shot and wounded in Englewood.

On June 27, 20-month-old Sincere Gaston was shot and killed in Englewood. The same night, 10-year-old Lena Nunez Anaya was fatally shot in Logan Square.

On June 22, a 3-year-old girl was wounded when a bullet grazed her in Chicago Lawn.

On June 20, 3-year-old Mekhi James and 13-year-old Amaria Jones were killed in separate shootings on the West Side.

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