Home / National News / Father of Murdered Baby Jonylah Was Not a Gang Member: Spokesman


(CHICAGO) — The Chicago father who along with his 6-month old baby was shot earlier this week in an incident the city’s police chief said was likely gang-related does not have an affiliation with any of Chicago’s street gangs, according to a family spokesman.

Jonathan Watkins, 29, was shot several times, as was his baby Jonylah, in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood Monday afternoon. Baby Jonylah, who was shot five times in the incident, died Tuesday at a Chicago hospital. Watkins is still hospitalized, and is stabilizing, both his sister-in-law and Pastor Corey Brooks confirmed to ABC News.

Brooks said that Watkins is not affiliated with any of Chicago’s four major street gangs, and has not had any trouble with the law since 2007.

“A lot of people are saying it was gang-related,” Brooks said. “That’s not true from our standpoint. Jonathan was not in a gang. We don’t know whether the shooter was, but [Watkins] was not in a gang.”

At a press conference Tuesday, hours after Baby Jonylah’s death, Chicago Police Chief Garry McCarthy told reporters that Watkins is a gang member who has a lengthy criminal record, including a three-year prison sentence on a weapons charge.

“It’s important that we make it clear that this was not a random case, this was obviously targeted,” McCarthy said Tuesday.

Speaking with ABC News Wednesday, Chicago police said they are not retracting any of McCarthy’s statements on Watkins or the shooting.

Watkins was changing Baby Jonylah’s diaper in a car at 12:48 p.m. Monday when a gunman approached and fired at the pair. Police are investigating, but said they do not have a solid witness.

According to Comer Children’s Hospital spokesman John Easton it was one gunshot wound that caused Jonylah’s fatal injuries.

“There was one in the shoulder that passed all the way through, and the final exit wound was in the leg,” he told ABC News. “This was the one that mattered.”

Jonylah’s 20-year-old mother was at her job as a cashier at McDonald’s at the time of the shooting, according to her sister, Tiffany Young. Young said the couple has been together for four years.

“She’s trying to stay strong, but she can’t believe that her baby’s gone,” Young told ABC News. “I just want whoever did this to turn himself in.”

Brooks said that the young couple, who wed in February, was attempting to be “different.”

“They were making sure that their family gets all the right things that a young family is supposed to,” he said. “They were working to make sure their family is different. That’s why they got married. They were trying to do all of the right things….In a neighborhood where a lot of young men are making babies and not taking care of them, he chose to be different.”

Brooks said that the New Beginnings Church, located five blocks from where a memorial for Jonylah has been set up, has already raised an $11,000 reward for information leading to the capture of her killer. He said that gang violence in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood is taking a turn for the worse.

“There’s a lot of that in our neighborhood. That’s what is driving a lot of what’s going on, driving a lot of the violence,” he said.

Chicago recorded more than 500 homicides last year for the first time since 2008. McCarthy said Tuesday that Chicago’s Third District has one of the city’s highest crime rates, and that the force had a strong deployment in the area following Monday’s shooting.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


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