Anti-Violence Activist Mentors Gunman Who Shot at Him in Humboldt Park
CHATHAM — A day after dodging gunfire while trying to keep the peace in Humboldt Park, anti-violence activist Jedidiah Brown went right back into the fray, showing up Tuesday at the scene of a shooting that left a woman seriously injured on the South Side.
But this time, Brown brought with him an interesting companion, who sat not far from him as he spoke with reporters about the violence that swept Chicago over the holiday weekend: the man who shot at him Monday.
"I'm not going to report him," Brown, 27, of South Shore, said later. "I'm going to help him. He's in my car because today he's serving the community he terrorized last night."
Jedidiah Brown discusses the night he was almost shot, and why he won't turn in the gunman to police:
Brown is a pastor and president of a group called the Young Leaders Alliance. As part of an effort to reclaim Chicago neighborhoods, Brown organizes volunteers en masse in designated areas through a project he's dubbed "The Village Take Back."
He follows the violence around Chicago in order to connect with the families of victims, and in the best scenarios, endeavors to stop those who might seek retribution.
"The first few moments after a shooting are the most important," he said. "Maybe there's somebody at the scene who will tell me something they're not comfortable telling police."
Horrified by the shooting tallies — 70 people were shot over the Fourth of July weekend, with 13 dead — Brown said he went to Humboldt Park Monday night to spend some time with three young people trying to "turn their lives around."
Shortly after 9 p.m., the group Brown was with and a group of men in a dark-colored car started arguing over a girl. Sensing that the situation might escalate, he told the men in the car, "'We're not going to do this today,'" he recalled later.
Moments later, Brown saw the same car, he said. A gun appeared in the window, and he heard the shots.
"I thought I was never going to see my family again," Brown said. "I never knew I could run that fast. I called on Jesus, and he gave me wings."
Fleeing the gunfire, he disappeared in Humboldt Park and was separated from the group, Brown said. By the time he found them, one of the young men, who borrowed Brown's cell phone earlier, had issued a call for help on Brown's Twitter account, reporting that Brown was shot.
"Mr brown got shot n i got his phone ... i dont know who to call," the Tweet read.
Brown said he later learned the identity of the man with the gun when the shooter called to apologize.
"He said he didn't see me, didn't know I was out there," said Brown.
So Brown offered him a deal: Spend a day with him as he tried to fight violence, and he wouldn't report him.
Happy to be alive, Brown went home Monday night to a host of friends and family who had seen the alarming tweet.
But Tuesday afternoon, he was back at it again, visiting the scene of a shooting at 83rd Street and Ellis Avenue in Chatham that left an 18-year-old woman in serious condition with a bullet wound in her head, according to authorities.
He showed up with the man who shot at him in tow — but refused to identify the man.
Brown talked to a few people, learned that the victim's injuries did not appear to be fatal and decided that he would try to reach out to her family.
"This is what I do," he said of his violence intervention efforts.
A Chicago Police spokesman wouldn't comment on Brown's actions, but said officials did encourage the public to aid police.
"Chicago Police do want community involvement to help solve crimes," the spokesman said.
Brown, who has said he planned to run for alderman in the 5th Ward, said he would continue to try to fight the violence regardless of whether he was successful politically.
"I'm not doing any of this for money," he said.
"I care about Chicago. I love my city," he added. "This is everybody's problem, it's everybody's fault."