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Englewood, Chatham, Auburn Gresham

After Mass Shooting Rocks Englewood, Neighbors Focus On Mental Health And Healing: ‘You’re Not Alone. We Care About You’

Violence interrupters are taking over corners in Englewood to provide support to residents as they grieve and heal after a mass shooting left four people dead and four wounded.

Chicagoans with TARGET Area Development gather on June 16, 2021 near the scene of Tuesday's mass shooting in the 6200 south block of Morgan St that left four dead and four injured.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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ENGLEWOOD — After a mass shooting in Englewood left four people dead and four wounded Tuesday, Chicagoans in orange shirts took over a nearby corner to support family, friends and neighbors as they grieve their losses.

The people with the orange shirts are part of TARGET Area Development, a violence-interruption organization that works throughout Chicago. Their goal is to listen to residents’ requests and meet their needs as the community navigates trauma.

The organization’s members were part of a support event Wednesday, and they will occupy local corners for several days to offer counseling, consoling and resources to residents.

“This could not be a one and done. This is about telling everybody you’re not alone. We care about you,” Executive Director Autry Phillips said. Four “people killed, true; we can’t do anything about that. But we can bring hope back to the community.

“People are scared to come out of the homes. We cannot be scared.”

Two young mothers, a Rogers Park woman and an Englewood man were killed in the Tuesday morning shooting in the 6200 block of South Morgan Street. Four others were wounded. It was Chicago’s second mass shooting in just four days; later that night, a third mass shooting wounded five people in Garfield Park.

One of the residents guiding TARGET’s members as they work to support the community is Lavox Anthony, who has lived in the neighborhood his whole life and was friends with several victims. Just hours after hearing about the shooting and the loss of his friends, he coordinated a supportive response for those around him.

Mental health is a cornerstone of Anthony’s approach to better life in Englewood, and he said it’s “the biggest key” to recover as a community from the shooting.

“Nobody’s getting help mentally,” Anthony said. “Money doesn’t heal everything, but it takes money to heal you mentally.”

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Autry Phillips speaks as Chicagoans with TARGET Area Development gather on June 16, 2021 near the scene of Tuesday’s mass shooting in the 6200 block of South Morgan Street that left four dead and four injured.

Police are still investigating what happened Tuesday morning but said there was an argument inside a home and someone fired shots. Officers went to the home about 6 a.m. and found four people dead at the scene.

One of the victims was Ratanya Aryiel Rogers, 28, of Rogers Park, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office. Another was 19-year-old Shermetria Williams, who had a 2-year-old daughter and was set to graduate the same day she was slain.

Denice Mathis was also among those killed. She went by Niecy and was a mother of five children, according to the Sun-Times.

Another victim was Blake Lee, who lived in the home, his family told the Sun-Times.

A 2-year-old girl was also in the home during the shooting. The child was not wounded, but she was taken to a hospital of an abundance of caution, police said.

Four other adults were hospitalized.

Supt. David Brown said Tuesday there will be more police in the area until they can determine who the shooters were and why the attack occurred.

“We’re always concerned with street justice,” he said. “Retaliation, revenge drives a lot of violence in Chicago. At this point, we do provide extra patrols just because of that reality.”

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Chicago Police work the scene where four people were killed and at least four others wounded in a mass shooting in the 6200 block of South Morgan Street in Englewood in the early morning of June 15, 2021.

But residents and community groups aren’t just relying on police for protection — they are turning to organizations that can help them grieve and heal.

Groups like TARGET are providing those resources and helping residents connect with professional help — a side effect from years of city officials closing down affordable mental health clinics in Chicago’s communities.

RELATED: The City Closed Many Of Its Free Mental Health Clinics, So West Siders Opened Their Own

Anthony wants to create a space where people in communities that have faced such disinvestment can comfortably talk through their emotions rather than “lash out.”

“I used to always think anxiety was a white people thing, because I was always taught … Black man don’t cry, Black man don’t hurt,” Anthony said. “I’ve had anxiety attacks before when I was little but didn’t know what to call them.”

Phillips, with TARGET, hopes flooding the community with help will enable residents to move toward solutions for their goals with the right support while shaking the mindset men cannot process their emotions.

“That’s the myth we have to dispel, right? Because if you can’t cry over [four] people dead, we have lost,” Phillips said. “It’s OK to cry. We don’t have answers, but what we do have is hope.”

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Chicagoans with TARGET Area Development gather on June 16, 2021 near the scene of Tuesday’s mass shooting in the 6200 south block of Morgan St that left four dead and four injured.

At Wednesday’s event, activist Charles McKenzie talks about how he sees Englewood as always having good going on. Longtime residents spoke highly of the ebbs and flows of the community.

“It’s like the rose that grew out of the concrete,” said resident Kevin Mitchell, standing alongside neighbor Norman Woods. The duo said the neighborhood’s residents needs more support for jobs and mental health.

“You depress the man by not letting them work, not giving them encouragement. … Pressure make the pipe burst,” Woods said of the roots of violence in Chicago.

Anthony said change won’t be immediate, as it’s “impossible” to quickly get rid of problems that have been in the neighborhoods for decades.

But to start to address the causes of violence, oppressive systems must be reversed — and that can begin at gatherings like Wednesday’s violence-interruption event, Anthony said.

“At the end of the day, it starts here, but it goes into different programs that fund our neighborhood, to make sure that people get the necessary help that they need,” Anthony said.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Englewood residents Norman Woods and Kevin Mitchell pose for a photo as Chicagoans with TARGET Area Development gather on June 16, 2021 near the scene of Tuesday’s mass shooting in the 6200 south block of Morgan St that left four dead and four injured.

As community members gathered at the intersection Wednesday, some held signs like “Honk 4 Peace!” Many drivers honked their car horns, and people waved their arms and cheered as they passed.

Such demonstrations show communities like Englewood do care about ending the violence, attendees said.

“We’re the answer to the people who don’t care. We get up every morning with hope that one day somebody is going to listen to us,” Phillips said. “If we wasn’t here, how much worse would it be?

“If these guys that’s wearing the orange was not on the street … and convincing that person that they’re talking to right then and there to put the gun down” how much worse would it be?

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Minister Pearl Johnson of Auburn Gresham leads with a prayer as Chicagoans with TARGET Area Development gather on June 16, 2021.

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