A 15-year-old boy was shot and killed Tuesday afternoon two blocks from Simeon High School, where he was a student.
Jamari Williams was shot around 2:40 p.m. by someone in a black car outside a business in the 8300 block of South Holland Road, Chicago police said. He was hit in the chest and taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
A backpack and sandals lay among more than a dozen evidence markers on the parking lot and sidewalk in front of a BMO Harris Bank branch. Officers walked in and out of a nail salon and restaurant next to the bank.
“We heard the sound and saw people running,” said an employee at a GameStop store near the shooting, who declined to be named. “Kids were leaving school and then it happened.”
The manager of a Potbelly was pulling into the restaurant parking lot when she heard gunshots and saw the teen lying on the ground in front of a bank. “I heard it but couldn’t see it,” said the manager, who declined to provide her name. “He was on the ground.”
Williams played on the school’s junior varsity football team. The Rev. Donovan Price said the boy’s father had been killed by gun violence within the last year, and the teen hoped football would be his way out of the neighborhood.
Price said the boy had dreamed of getting “his mother out of the hood with football.” He said Williams didn’t hang out with the wrong crowd and had a good support system around him.
That’s what makes his death even more tragic, he said. “Unfortunately because of gun violence, we’re losing children, we’re losing dreams, we’re losing a lot.”
Williams was shot at a small business plaza where Simeon students hang out after classes, according to Aie’rianna Williams, a senior at the school. Aie’rianna Williams said she has lost several classmates to violence during her time at Simeon.
“I’ve lost multiple classmates every year, and it’s just heartbreaking,” she said at the scene. “There’s been only four weeks in school and another student is gone. It’s like, when is it going to stop? Because we all know, when I graduate it’s not going to stop.
“We’re going to hear about it again and again, and it’s tiring,” Aie’rianna Williams said. “Just stop.”
She said she checked on a friend when the shots rang out.
“We’re students, we’re children,” she said. “Some of us haven’t even hit 18 yet and we have to lose so many people — some that we don’t know and some that we do. It’s sad, it’s messed up.
“I don’t care if it’s vengeance, I don’t care if it’s revenge,” she added. “That’s still a life you’re taking. It doesn’t matter.”
It’s the second student death the school has gone through this year, according to the Chicago Teachers Union, which said Simeon student Zmaya Bell died earlier this year due to complications from COVID-19. The union will be working with its Foundation Quest Center to offer support services for students.
“Our collective heart goes out to this student’s family and friends, as well as the Simeon school community, after another unspeakable tragedy impacting children in our city,” the union wrote about Tuesday’s fatal shooting.
The Chatham community area has seen 22 homicides so far this year, two more than the same time last year, according to Sun-Times data.
Chatham is one of the city’s 15th most violent community areas that have been prioritized by the city for increased anti-violence funding and community programs, although some of those areas have seen little increased funding.
The police district that covers Chatham has seen a 15% increase in murders over the same time last year, from 55 to 63, according to police statistics. Shootings have risen 28%, from 185 to 237, over the same period.