BACK OF THE YARDS — How do you tell a 4-year-old that his mother and grandmother have been murdered?
That's the impossible dilemma two Back of the Yards women face following a tragic shooting on their block Monday night.
Ruthie Carpenter is helping look after the 4-year-old son of Patricia Chew, a pregnant woman who was shot and killed along with her mother, Lolita Wells, while they were preparing to leave for a family outing in the 5300 block of South Aberdeen Street on Monday night. Chew's 11-month-old son and two men were also injured in the shooting.
Persha Chew, Lolita's daughter and Patricia's sister, is also helping to look after the 4-year-old. The shooting happened in front of her home.
"Now I got to deal with the fact, how am I going to explain to [Patricia's son] that he ain't gonna see his mama or his grandma?" Chew said. "How am I going to explain that to my daughter, also? Because they [are] definitely asking about them."
Persha said the family had been preparing to leave so they could visit another sister who is visiting from Arizona. Before the visit, they hadn't seen her in 20 years, Chew said, and they were getting ready to say goodbye again.
While getting ready to leave, Persha Chew and her brother stepped inside her home. About a minute later, she said, gunfire erupted outside. She ran outside and saw her family laying on the ground.
Monique Williams, another relative who lives on the block, also heard the gunfire and ran outside to help. Williams, a nurse, said she pulled off Wells' clothes to examine her wounds as the woman faded in and out of consciousness, asking for help when she briefly came around.
Persha cradled her 11-month-old nephew, who was shot in his torso, and took him to the hospital in a squad car with police. The two men who were injured are not relatives but are neighbors who were walking by, Persha Chew said.
"My sister was outgoing. She always made somebody laugh," Persha Chew said on Tuesday, standing outside her home. "A jokester. There was never a time where she was around and she wasn't making somebody laugh. She loved her kids."
Persha Chew said her 3-year-old daughter and Patricia's oldest son, who is 4, were outside during the shooting. Lolita sheltered the children, Persha said.
"I think if it wasn't for my mama sheltering my daughter, my nephew, it could have been one of them," she said.
The 3-year-old girl was "trembling" after the shooting, said Carpenter, the girl's other grandmother and Persha Chew's mother-in-law. She shares a home with Persha where the shooting occurred.
"People are being killed," the 3-year-old told Carpenter.
Shootings are uncommon in the area, Chew and Williams said, and children often play outside freely. On Tuesday, just hours after the shooting, children played in yards and waved out their windows. Halloween decorations were set up at nearby homes.
"It wasn't a gang rivalry or nothing. This was just random family standing outside waiting to go see more family," Chew said.
Carpenter was near tears on the scene of the shooting Tuesday, also asking how she will tell the young boy his family is dead.
"In a second, two generations of that child's family were wiped out. That's an important message to get out," Chicago Police Deputy Chief Eugene Roy said at a news conference at the scene Monday night. "You have an innocent family coming home from a family outing, and somebody opens fire on two women, a child and two adults."
No one was in custody, and police said they don't have a motive yet.
"We're looking at all possible motives for this attack," police said.
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