ROSELAND — Friends and family of a man shot Saturday night suspect he was caught in a string of back-and-forth gang shootings on the Far South Side.
Arlanders Watkins, 46, was standing outside at 11050 S. Vernon Ave. around 10:30 p.m. when he was killed in what police called a gang-related attack. Police said a shooter in a dark-colored vehicle pulled up and fired shots, striking Watkins twice in the head and hitting a 21-year-old man in the neck.
Terri Miller, Watkins' girlfriend of eight years, said she believes the shots weren't meant for him, but that they were the result of ongoing gang retaliations across Palmer Park in Roseland.
Sitting with her sister, Artiece Mondane, the night after Watkins was killed, the two estimated the sounds of gunshots in the area can be heard up to three nights a week.
Watkins "was a casualty in someone else's war" — a gang war that has been ongoing for at least a month, Mondane said.
"They're constantly shooting back and forth, and you don't know who is shooting or why — just that it's going on. They pick up guns like they're fireworks, and they're taking lives," she said. "We just want to know what happened [to Watkins]."
"I can't sleep because [my sister] can't sleep," Mondane said. "It hasn't hit us hard yet. We've just been up all night talking and remembering him."
Miller and Watkins, who was often called by his middle name, Devon, met in 2005, about a block from where he was shot Saturday night.
Watkins had a terminal heart condition that left him unable to work, Miller said, but the two happily spent the indefinite amount of time they had left. The fatal shooting came as a surprise.
"Now, it's like you look up and there's this cold spot right there in the bed — it hurts," Miller said. "He was my best friend."
A series of poems for Watkins sat beside her on the couch of her Far South Side home, one, titled, "Missing You."
No one was in custody for the shooting as Tuesday, police said.