By Grace Wong, Rosemary Regina Sobol, Los Angeles Times
The 15-year-old grandson of U.S. Rep. Danny Davis was fatally shot Friday night on the South Side of Chicago in a “dispute over gym shoes,” according to police.
“It was unbelievable, unbelievable,’’ said Davis, who was reached by phone on his way to the police station to be briefed on the incident.
(Courtesy of the New York Daily News and YouTube)
His grandson, Jovan Wilson, was at his home in Englewood with an uncle, his 16-year-old sister, 14-year-old brother and 8-year-old brother when two teenage assailants entered the home and began arguing with Jovan, police and Davis said. The teen’s mother had left the home to pick up food.
At some point during the argument, one of the assailants, a 15-year-old boy, pulled out a gun and shot Jovan in the head. A 17-year-old girl was the other assailant, Davis said.
“There was a history between the young people involved and it was a dispute over gym shoes. This was not random but was egregious and senseless to use a gun over a fight for clothes,” said Anthony Guglielmi, spokesman for the Chicago Police Department.
Jovan Wilson was dead on the scene in the 5600 block of South Princeton Avenue, said Officer Michelle Tannehill, a Chicago police spokeswoman.
The attackers still were at large as of Saturday, Guglielmi said.
“It underscores that there’s no repercussions for using guns in Chicago and our criminal justice system is not an effective deterrent,” he added.
Jovan, a sophomore at Perspectives Charter High School, loved sports and rap music, Davis said. “He was a typical 15-year-old,” the congressman said.
“He liked basketball. If you listened to him he was a basketball star, but he liked basketball and music. All those kinds of things. He was an avid sports fan, he knew all about, you know, the stats of different players.”
Davis had just returned to Chicago from Washington, D.C., and was in his office when his son, the boy’s father, called him with the news of the shooting.
“Initially it was that he had been shot and then actually the police commander called me and indicated that, there during a home invasion, he had been shot and it didn’t look good,” Davis said.
“Immediately I simply left and came out to the area where it had taken place,” Davis said. “It’s totally disconcerting.”
When asked what the attack says about crime in Chicago, Davis said: “Well, I think it just reinforces a lot of things we already know. There’s an awful lot of people in Chicago who are in need of help, who need help to heal them and share their ideas and personalities. There’s a need for them to have jobs and employment opportunities and there’s a need for young people especially to have more effective instruction.”
“We need to improve our schools,” he said. “We need to make sure that there are enough schools and after-school recreational, job activity to keep young people busy and engaged and all of those things … and his being shot is just simply a manifestation of the tremendous urban crisis that we are facing in Chicago.”
(WARNING: CONTAINS VERY STRONG LANGUAGE Killings in Chicago have hit a 20-year high as the grim toll for homicides passes 500. The BBC’s Ian Pannell and Darren Conway explore a world where gangs and guns rule. Courtesy of the BBC and YouTube)
After spending more than two hours speaking with police, Davis emerged to the station’s lobby with his son, Stacey Wilson, and vowed to continue his work to combat gun violence. He questioned where and how the 15-year-old boy who is believed to have killed his grandson obtained a gun.
He said he might never know the answer to those questions or if there was anything, such as better education, that could have prevented his grandson’s homicide.
“I do know that I grieve for my family,” Davis said at a news conference. “I grieve for the young man who pulled the trigger. I grieve for his family, his parents, his friends, some of whom will never see him again.”
Davis said gun violence is a problem society deals with every day, reflecting on how he’s attended multiple funerals for other slain teenagers.
“I guess that I always knew that the possibility existed that it could happen close to me,” Davis said. “As a matter of fact, I thought it was so unfortunate because Jovan had just reached a point, 15, his grades had improved at school. His father had just told me about how proud of him that he was because he was catching on and realizing that all of his life was in front of him.”
The family had talked to the teen about staying at home at night. Still, that didn’t spare him from violence, Davis said.
“Unfortunately, here he was in the house at home, minding his own business, and some intruders would come and snuff his life away,” Davis said.
The boy’s father, teary-eyed, stood next to Davis during the news conference. He had just given his son money to get a haircut, and he thought the next time he would talk to him was about an appropriate haircut to get.
“It’s going to take me some time to grieve,” Wilson said.
Violence has spiked this year in Chicago to levels not seen since the 1990s, and several people with prominent connections have been killed in addition to Davis’ grandson.
(Arshell ‘Trey’ Dennis was 19 years old, and home on a surprise visit from college to see his mother on her birthday, when he was shot at point blank range. Courtesy of BET News and YouTube)
In mid-August, Arshell Dennis, a 19-year-old college student and the son of a Chicago police officer, was shot to death in the Wrightwood neighborhood on the Southwest Side.
About two weeks later, Nykea Aldridge, 32, a cousin of Chicago Bulls star Dwyane Wade, was gunned down while pushing her baby in a stroller in the Parkway Gardens neighborhood on the South Side.
(The high-profile murder of NBA star Dwyane Wade’s cousin has put a spotlight on gun violence in Chicago. CNN’s Rachel Crane reports. Courtesy of CNN and YouTube)
Davis, a former Chicago alderman and Cook County commissioner, was first elected to the U.S. House in 1996. He was elected to an 11th term earlier this month.
His 7th Congressional District covers much of downtown Chicago, the West Side and western Cook County suburbs and parts of the South Side, including the neighborhood where his grandson was killed.
“We are tired of watching families get destroyed by gun violence and are pleading for elected officials to give Chicago police the tools we need,” Guglielmi said.
Chicago Tribune’s Elvia Malagon contributed.