2 teens charged with murder of congressman's grandson, bail denied

CHICAGO — Two teenagers were charged Sunday as adults with first-degree murder for the shooting death of the 15-year-old grandson of U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, police said.

Chicago police identified the suspects as Tariq Harris, a 16-year-old boy, and Dijae Banks, a 17-year-old girl, saying they took part in the slaying of Jovan Wilson, who was shot in the head at his South Side home Friday following a dispute over a pair of gym shoes.

The two suspects were also charged with home invasion.

Cook County Judge James Brown ordered both teens held without bail. He said the charges suggested the two showed "clear and total callous disregard" for life.

The dispute — which started as an argument over a pair of shoes — escalated, turned into a physical confrontation, and one of the suspects allegedly pulled out a .9mm handgun and shot the congressman’s grandson, police said. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi described the shooting as “egregious and senseless.”

Prosecutors said that Jovan's 16-year-old sister, two younger brothers and uncle were in the house when the incident occurred.

Assistant State's Attorney Bryan Grissman said Harris and Banks were friends with Jovan's 14-year-old brother and went to the house to retrieve a pair of shoes Banks had traded to the younger boy for a pair of pants

Banks wanted her shoes back, but Jovan's younger brother refused to give them back until he got back his pants, according to the prosecutor. During the argument, Banks brandished a handgun and threatened Jovan's sister.

At some point, Banks handed the gun to Harris and began fighting with the sister. Jovan tried to break up the fight, and Banks struck him with a closed fist, Grissman said. Jovan then punched her back.

"Defendant Banks then became angry with defendant Harris that he was allowing the siblings to treat her this way, " Grissman said during Sunday's bond hearing. "Defendant Harris then took a step back, raised the the firearm and fired it one time, striking the victim in the neck."

The killing comes amid a surge in violence that Chicago has not seen since the tail of the crack-cocaine epidemic in the late 1990s. The nation’s third-largest city is on pace to tally more than 700 homicides in 2016, and already has recorded more than New York and Los Angeles combined.

Davis, whose congressional district includes a swath of the city’s West Side that has experienced the rise in violence, said Saturday that family members had spoken to his grandson about staying off the streets at night for his own safety.

“The question becomes where does a (teenager) obtain a gun? Who let the 15-year-old have a gun and under what circumstances?” Davis asked. “There’s no answer for that except that the availability of guns is so prevalent in America to the point where you almost can’t tell who has a gun.”

The incident is the latest grim example of how gun violence has bedeviled the city. The victims of Chicago gun violence often aren’t law-abiding citizens — they include gang members, drug dealers and people with long arrest records.

But in this difficult year for the city, there also have been victims like Nykea Aldridge, 32, the mother of four and cousin of Chicago Bulls star Dwyane Wade, who was fatally shot in August as she was pushing a baby stroller on the city’s South Side. Police said Aldridge was not the intended target in the shooting carried out by two gang members with long criminal records.

Pamela Johnson, 32, was killed after she was accidentally struck by a motorist when she fled an armed gunman as she and her boyfriend took a late night stroll on the city’s lakefront over Memorial Day weekend.

A little more than a week before Johnson’s death, Yvonne Nelson, 49, was fatally wounded as she walked out of a Starbucks, a block from police headquarters. Police said the target of the shooter was a young man they described as a documented gang member walking nearby. He was also wounded several times.

USA TODAY


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