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River North, Gold Coast, Near North Side

Men Charged In Murder Of 9-Year-Old Janari Ricks, 7-Year-Old Natalia Wallace: ‘Take A Leap Of Faith’ And Come Forward, Police Say

Darrell Johnson, 39, faces a felony murder charge in the fatal shooting of 9-year-old Janari Ricks last Friday. A third man was also charged in the West Side slaying of a 7-year-old girl.

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CHICAGO — A 39-year-old man was charged with fatally shooting a 9-year-old boy Friday in the Cabrini Green neighborhood.

Darrell Johnson, of Brighton Park, faces a felony count of first-degree murder in the killing of Janari Ricks, who was shot around 6 p.m. Friday in the 900 block of North Cambridge Avenue, Chicago police said.

Johnson was arrested at 3:13 p.m. Sunday in the 7900 block of South Prairie Ave., police said.

Credit: CPD
Darrell Johnson, 39

Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said during a press conference Monday that police were able to quickly take Johnson into custody thanks to neighbors who spoke up about the shooting.

“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 said Johnson drove to the 900 block of North Cambridge, got out of his car and tried to shoot at an intended target from a gangway, but missed.

Instead, 9-year-old Ricks, who was playing outside hear his home, was shot several times before Johnson took off, police said. Ricks was taken to Lurie Children’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 7 p.m.

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.

Police Supt. David Brown also said police couldn’t have arrested Johnson without community support.

Brown said trust between trust between residents and police is “tenuous” and need to continually be worked on, but he hopes other communities will look to the arrest as an example where working with police can lead 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.

“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.”

A GoFundMe campaign to help the family of Janari Ricks pay for funeral expenses has been created. A Stop the Violence march in Janari’s honor will kick off from the school he attended —Edward Jenner Public School, 1119 N. Cleveland Ave. 4 p.m. Thursday.

Third Man Charged In 7-Year-Old’s Slaying

Additionally, Chicago Police charged 30-year-old Terrell Boyd of Racine, Wisconsin for the murder of Natalia Wallace, a 7-year-old girl who was visiting family on the West Side for the Fourth of July when she was gunned down.

Boyd was placed in custody August 3 and extradited to Chicago, according to Chicago police.

He is the third offender charged in Natalia’s slaying. Reginald Merrill, the alleged driver in the shooting, was charged July 7 and Davion Mitchell, one of the alleged shooters, was charged July 15. Police said they are still searching for Boyd’s brother in connection to the shooting.

Boyd was ordered held without bond during a Tuesday hearing. His defense attorney told the court that he has only one prior crime on his record, a 2009 drug conviction.

Janari and Natalia are among 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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