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Grief And Outrage After 9-Year-Old Janari Ricks Was Shot And Killed Outside Cabrini Rowhouses

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A family is crestfallen and outraged after a 9-year-old boy was shot dead Friday night while playing outside in the Cabrini rowhouses.

Police said the gunman opened fire on a group of people behind the townhomes on Cambridge Avenue – the last occupied section of the Cabrini-Green public housing development – when 9-year-old Janari Ricks was struck.

Janari Ricks
(Credit: Jalisa Ford)

As CBS 2's Marissa Parra reported Saturday, this now makes at least 16 children under the age of 10 in Chicago since mid-June.

Cabrini-Green once stretched from Evergreen Avenue on the north to Chicago Avenue on the south, and from the Chicago Transit Authority Brown-Purple Line tracks on the east to Halsted Street on the west.

It was also one of the most infamous housing projects in the country, drawing decades of headlines from the 1970 sniper shooting that killed two police officers to then-Mayor Jane Byrne's controversial temporary move into the development to draw attention to the violence there in 1981. In 1992, Cabrini-Green drew national headlines for the murder of 7-year-old Dantrell Davis by a sniper perched atop a high-rise on Cleveland Avenue – an incident that also sparked a gang truce.

Since the late 1990s, Cabrini-Green has gone through massive transformation to shed that reputation – while also spurring complaints about gentrification. All the high-rises and mid-rises came down between 1995 and 2011, with new developments such as a Target store and luxury apartment buildings standing in the stead of some, and empty fields where others once stood.

All that is left now is the oldest part of the development, the Cabrini Rowhouses that date from the 1940s. Even among the rowhouses, only 137 units remain occupied while 450 units are fenced off and boarded up.

In 2020, the juxtaposition is stark. A fancy Starbucks stands steps away from a site where on Saturday, mothers were wailing over the loss of 9-year-old Janari – yet another child shot dead in the street while playing outside.

Janari Ricks
(Credit: Jalisa Ford)

"He says, 'Mom, can I come outside and play?' and I said, 'Sure,'" said Janari's mother, Jalisa Ford. "And when he went out, he never came back home."

Basketballs and footballs in the form of balloons linger over where Ford kissed her son goodbye.

The 9-year-old lay bleeding after he was shot while playing outside the rowhouses in the 900 block of North Cambridge Avenue.

"I'm so devastated," Ford said.

Janari Ricks
(Credit: Jalisa Ford)

Good at sports, good at math, and loved by everyone, Janari was on his way to the gifted program. But Ford's only child will now forever stay a memory in Cabrini-Green – yet another child in Chicago robbed of his future.

Janari Ricks Signed Basketball
A basketball signed for Janari Ricks. (Credit: Jalisa Ford)

"I'm not mad at nobody. I just need answers on why," Ford said. "When is it going to stop?"

For weeks, the cry to put down the guns has been echoed around the city. Since mid-June, at least 16 children under the age of 10 have been shot in Chicago, and five have died – including Janari.

"God bless their soul and their family," said Darrell Dacres of Communities Partnering 4 Peace. "They didn't have a chance to speak, so we're trying to give our kids in our community to be a voice."

On Saturday, there was outrage over violence and young Black lives lost. A group took to the streets to ask for more resources and justice for the kids.

The Daddy Please anti-violence march was held in another Chicago neighborhood that has seen troubles with gang violence lately – Rogers Park.

"We're trying to get people to stop the violence and bring peace to our neighborhoods," said Deion Geiger of Communities Partnering 4 Peace. "The kids want to grow."


A Kids' Lives Matter march had also just wrapped up on 63rd Street when Janari was shot in broad daylight across town on Friday.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot addressed the shooting on Twitter Saturday morning saying "prayers alone will not sooth a broken heart."

The mayor said we and the nation need support like "street outreach interventions," as well as "federal gun control to keep firearms from falling into the wrong hands."

Mayor Lightfoot is encouraging the public to come forward to tips leading to an arrest.

Anyone with information is asked to contact to submit any details they may have on the crime. The information will remain confidential.

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