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A Violent Trend: Increasing Numbers Of Children Killed By Gun Violence In Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Community members Monday released balloons near the Homan Square restaurant where 7-year-old Jaslyn Adams was killed.

She was shot in a McDonald's drive-thru at Roosevelt Road and Kedzie Avenue.

Jaslyn's father was also shot but is expected to survive.

She is the third child killed by gun violence in Chicago so far this year. Jaslyn, known as "Pinky" by her family, was also one of at least six children in Chicago shot in the last seven weeks. It's a trend local organizations are trying to reverse. 

"It still don't even seem real," said Rayanna Thomas, Jaslyn's stepmother. "This was a baby. There's like no words for it."

Thomas Facetimed CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey from the hospital where the 7-year-old's father is recovering from a gunshot wound. 

Jontae Adams, 29, and Jaslyn were riding in this now bullet ridden Acura as they were pulling through the drive thru of a Homan Square McDonald's Sunday. The fast food restaurant is now the scene of a memorial to the energetic little girl. 

Thomas was there when they had to break the news to Jaslyn's father in the hospital. 

"He kind of already figured himself because when they were taking her out of the car because of how she looked he figured she was gone already," Thomas said. "But it didn't really hit him until it was said to him because everybody was still hoping."

Jaslyn joins 13-year-old Adam Toledo, who was shot by police in Little Village on March 29, and 11-year-old Ny-Andra Dyer, who was shot at a West Pullman gas station on March 1, as the three children who have lost their lives so far this year to gun violence. 

Gun related homicides of children have been trending upward since 2014. There were only three gun related child homicides in all of 2019. But that number rose dramatically in 2020. 

"Mom and dad love their children but they're also fighting their own demons and going through their own obstacles," said Chris Patterson with Friends of the Children Chicago.

Patterson says the stats underscore the need for proactive intervention. His program matches 4, 5 and 6-year-olds with long term mentors because he believes violence reduction can't focus only on the adults who are making poor decisions. 

"I noticed that the children were filling in the gaps when mom and dad were losing momentum," he said. "We have to figure out how to put our finger in the dyke and stop that action from happening."

Meanwhile Jaslyn's family is praying that she will be the last child who dies from gun violence in 2021. 

"I would have never thought this would hit home this close. Like this close?" said Thomas.

A total of 13 children died of gun violence in 2020, so this year is nearly on track to match it, which is why organizations like Friends of the Children Chicago say they are ramping up their efforts. 

As of Monday at 6 p.m., the Chicago Police Department had no offenders in custody and no description to share in Jaslyn's case. There are surveillance videos outside the McDonald's, but so far CBS 2 has not seen any surveillance footage of the incident. 

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