A 28-year-old man and his daughter were shot Monday as he bent over the girl to change her diaper as she laid on the front passenger seat of the family van, police said. Both were taken to hospitals in critical condition after shots rang out at about 12:45 p.m. in the 6500 block of South Maryland Avenue in Chicago. The father, identified by family members as Jonathan Watkins, was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. His daughter, Johnylah Watkins, was taken to Comer Children’s Hospital.
“The baby is in surgery. She isn’t nothing but six months old,” said the girl’s grandmother, Mary Young. “How could anybody — what kind of heart?”
Police were still looking for the shooter, who ran up from behind Watkins, fired, and then took off to a nearby blue conversion van, said department spokesman John Mirabelli. Bullets struck Jonathan Watkins in the buttocks and on the right side of his face. His young daughter was hit five times: in the thigh, shoulder, lung, liver and bowels, the family later said.
Witnesses reported hearing at least 10 gunshots. “I just heard like a lot of shots and skid marks, so that’s when I ran to the corner,” said Patricia McGowan, who lives near the scene but was at a salon at the time gunfire rang out. “There is always gunshots and crime in the neighborhood, Always drug activity in the neighborhood. … It’s heartbreaking. We’re looking for a place to move out immediately because that could have easily been me coming from the bus.” Police said Watkins has known gang affiliations.
Mary Young said her daughter, Judy Young, and Watkins were just recently married. Judy was grazed by a bullet in the knee about seven months ago, she said, while Johnylah was still in the womb. Pastor Corey Brooks late in the day offered a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the little girl’s shooter. Brooks gained notoriety last year for camping out on the roof of a south side motel in an effort to raise money for a community center.