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March, vigil for peace in Chicago after shooting that killed 9-year-old girl, wounded 10 others

Vigil held for 9-year-old girl killed in Chicago mass shooting
Vigil held for 9-year-old girl killed in Chicago mass shooting 02:37

CHICAGO (CBS) -- People gathered in the Back of the Yards neighborhood Monday to show support after a drive-by shooting left a 9-year-old girl dead and 10 other people hurt this past weekend.

The shooting happened around 9:20 p.m. Saturday near 52nd Street and Damen Avenue, Chicago Police said. The victims were at a family gathering when the shooting happened.

Officers responded to a ShotSpotter alert of 18 rounds fired and found multiple people shot on the block, police said.

Ariana Molina, 9, was struck in the head and died.

Ariana Molina, 9, was shot and killed in a mass shooting during a family gathering in the Back of the Yards neighborhood on April 13, 2024. Ten of her relatives were wounded in the shooting, including three other children. GoFundMe

A 1-year-old boy and a 7-year-old boy were each shot multiple times and were in critical condition Saturday night. A 9-year-old boy suffered a graze wound to his left pinky finger and was in good condition. Officials said the ages of the adult victims ranged from 19 to 40 — and Ariana's mother was one of them.

Community organizations are now offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the case being solved. It is jus tone of many ways the community is supporting little Ariana's family.

Another was a vigil held Monday evening in the very spot Ariana's life came to a tragic end.

During the vigil, a Spanish-language hymn filled the spring evening air as more than 100 people gathered.

"We're here to remember the memories we spent with this beautiful young girl," said Ariana's godfather.

Ariana was a young girl whose murder is drawing a community closer than ever before. While the pain is unbearable, Ariana's godfather explained the purpose of the gathering Monday night.

"Essentially, at the end of the day, we want to make sure it doesn't happen again to anybody's children," he said.

Chicago Police said the shooters are affiliated with a gang. But Ariana's father said earlier Monday that nobody in the family had anything to do with gangs.

"She had nothing to do with that. None of us are gang bangers. We don't gang bang," said Jose Molina. "We've been here 30 years. We don't do none of that."

The family made it clear they have no idea why they were targeted, and expressed frustration with people making assumptions.

"My family was enjoying a religious event," said Esmeralda Vargas, Ariana's cousin. "We're not gang affiliated, so it breaks my heart to see comments saying we deserved this."

Ariana's family is also determined to find whoever pulled the trigger.

"Please help us get justice," Vargas said.

But it is harder to grieve Ariana's death when 10 other family members were also injured in the mass shooting.

"And this keeps happening again and again," Vargas said. "Why?"

As they lit candles, many family members – but also some total strangers – felt compelled to wrap their arms around the family too.

"I feel their hurt. I feel their pain," said Costelia Seawood, who attended the vigil, "and I mean, we should do something about it. It's time now."

The tears at the vigil were mixed, in pain and in gratitude for the support.

"To see people I haven't seen in a long time who came out because they knew that we needed the community with us — it's beautiful to see," said Monse Ayala of Increase the Peace. "But I'm also frustrated why we have to even be here in the first place."

Ariana Molina's family holds march to her school

Earlier Monday, hundreds joined Ariana's family in taking to the streets for a march. They walked to Ariana's school, Robert Fulton Elementary School at 5300 S. Hermitage Ave., to let the neighborhood know enough is enough.

Ariana's uncle, Gerardo Molina, was part of the march.

"She's my niece. She means quite a bit," he said. "Right now, my head is not clear."

Emotions were still running raw for Molina on Monday, knowing his niece's life was cut short.

"I can't really say much," he said. "I'm going to start tearing and I don't want to."

Groups walk in solidarity after mass shooting killed girl, 9, in Chicago 02:21

As part of an initial response plan, the city is providing financial support for the little girl's family — as well as victim services. Also, behavioral teams and case managers have been provided for the neighborhood.

The Back of the Yards chapter of the organization Increase the Peace was part of the mass-canvassing event.

"Unfortunately, a lot of what we're seeing now is the lack of disinvestment that continues to happen on the Southwest and the East sides of Chicago, and we don't want to repeat those cycles — so we have to do something about it," said Ayala. "Enough is enough."

The Molina family made sure their message bellowed through the streets of Back of the Yards. It's a simple message - stop the violence.

"This is violence that has been increasing the past year in Chicago, and it needs to stop already," said Gerardo Molina.

Group marches for peace after Chicago mass shooting killed 9-year-old girl 02:38

"This is not going to be just now — that we're going to come together in the days and weeks and months and years to come, that we don't just walk around, you know, shout slogans, say some prayers, then go home and things are as they are," said Fr. David Kelly of Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation. "We have to make some changes. We have to. It is every one of our responsibility."

Two organizations — Circle of Love and 100 Black Men Standing — are offering the $2,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the mass shooting. Ariana's family hopes the reward will lead to a key tip in the case.

CBS 2 has pressed police about the initial reports saying the shooting was gang-related, but police said there were no updates late Monday.

As of late Monday, no arrests had been made.

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