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River North, Gold Coast, Near North Side

Alleged Shooter Of Janari Ricks, 9, Captured On 2 Surveillance Cameras, Prosecutors Say

A judge ordered Darrell Johnson held without bond Tuesday in Friday's slaying of the young boy.

Janari Ricks was shot and killed Friday near the Cabrini row houses on the Near North Side.
Bob Chiarito/Block Club Chicago (left)
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NEAR NORTH SIDE — The man charged with shooting into a crowd to hit a rival but instead murdering a 9-year-old was captured on two surveillance cameras, prosecutors said in court Tuesday.

In addition, prosecutors say they have five witnesses to the slaying of Janari Ricks, who was shot twice while playing outside near the Cabrini row houses Friday evening.

A judge ordered his alleged killer, Darrel Johnson, held without bond during a hearing Tuesday. He is charged with first-degree murder.

Credit: CPD
Darrell Johnson, 30

Police have said Janari was not the intended target, alleging Johnson was shooting at someone else. Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th), who grew up in Cabrini Green and knows Ricks’ family personally, said the shooting stemmed from a feud between two men whose families have known each other for nearly 50 years. Both men no longer live in the area where the shooting happened.

In court Tuesday, prosecutors said Johnson “went hunting” and described him parking his girlfriend’s car on Larabee Street Friday evening, walking through an alley, seeing 8-10 people including children in a courtyard at the Cabrini Rowhomes and then firing his weapon.

In addition to the two camera angles and five witnesses, prosecutors said a Chicago Police officer identified Johnson from surveillance video of the incident.

Prosecutors said Janari was hit by two gunshots, one that entered his back and exited his chest and one that went through his right forearm. After being shot he collapsed to the ground. A total of six .40 caliber gun shells were recovered at the scene, prosecutors said.

Johnson has a a prior conviction for attempted aggravated vehicular hijacking in 2005, in which he was sentenced to 4 years. Johnson also has a gun conviction from 2005 in which he received 4 years, and an aggravated battery with great bodily harm charge from 2002 in which he was given two years probation.

Prosecutors said they anticipate an additional charge of attempted first degree murder being filed against him. It was unclear if another person was shot in the incident but prosecutors referred to another witness as “Victim #2.”

Johnson was represented by attorney Steve Greenberg, who has become well known for representing singer R. Kelly. The bond hearing for Johnson Tuesday was handled by Nick Burris of Greenberg Trial Lawyers, as Greenberg was tending to a separate matter in Federal Court.

Before Tuesday’s bond hearing, Greenberg took to Twitter and wrote “We are going to be representing Darrel Johnson, who is the wrong person to be charged with the unfortunate shooting of a nine year old.”

Johnson is scheduled to next appear in court August 20.