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7-Year-Old Dantrell Davis' Murder In 1992 Brought Promises Of Change Just As 8-Year-Old Melissa Ortega's In 2022, But Is It Just Politics?

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Two children – 8-year-old Melissa Ortega and 7-year-old Dantrell Davis – were both killed in gang crossfire in Chicago.

The murders happened nearly 30 years apart – Melissa was killed in Little Village last weekend, while Dantrell was gunned down in the Cabrini-Green public housing development in the fall of 1992. But both died while holding their mother's hand.

As CBS 2's Jermont Terry reported Wednesday night, Dantrell's murder shook Chicago at the time. Mayor Richard M. Daley got out and front and promised change at that time, just as Mayor Lori Lightfoot did on Wednesday in the wake of Melissa's murder.

But amid Chicago's long heartbreak, are those promises just politics?

"Anytime it happens – I don't care whether it's 1902 or 2022 - it has the same impact on us as human beings," said Gery Chico, who was Mayor Daley's chief of staff in 1992. "You had a Police Department that was respected and worked with all facets of the community."

Anthony Garrett admitted to shooting and killing Dantrell accidentally in a sniper's position from a Cabrini-Green high-rise at 1157-59 N. Cleveland Ave., as he targeted a rival gang member.

Dantrell's murder left community outrage, and even gang leaders got involved.

"They even had means of communicating with the gangs, and the gangs themselves had morality to understand that you couldn't fire wildly into the streets - hitting innocent children," Chico said.

In 1992, Chicago was experiencing record homicides – much like we are seeing today.

On Wednesday, Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx, Mayor Lightfoot, and police Supt. David Brown all gathered to speak out as charges were announced in Melissa's murder.

"Political rhetoric," said former CBS 2 Political Producer Edward Marshall. "No one wanted to look like they were tone-deaf like Mayor Daley looked in 1992, when he physically was not here when this went down."

Marshall said gangs in Cabrini-Green formed a truce that lasted for three years. But he said the urgency for the future does not seem to be evident in Melissa's case.

"Tell me what we're doing that's going to prevent the next Melissa from being a crime victim. I'm not seeing it," Marshall said. "What I'm seeing is politicians stepping up because they don't want to look like they ignored this."

As the CPD works on community relations, Chico credits police for quick arrests on an uphill fight in Melissa's case.

"The gangs in the city today are far more fragmented," Chico said. "However, these shooters that mowed down this young girl are in gang that's been around for decades."

A 16-year-old boy and a 27-year-old man – Xavier Guzman – are now charged with murdering Melissa.

In Dantrell's murder, Garrett was sentenced to 100 years in prison in 1994.


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