HARVEY, Ill. (CBS) – An 11-year-old girl was shot and critically wounded Monday night while planning her birthday party in Harvey.
As CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reported Tuesday night, the shooting of Kentavia Blackful was just too much. It triggered an emergency meeting in the southern suburb.
Tuesday is Kentavia’s 12th birthday. Instead of celebrating, she is in the hospital – and her teachers and people who live in Harvey came to a church Tuesday night for a vigil.
“My student was not sitting in her chair,” said teacher Norma Young.
Kentavia is one of Young’s most promising 6th grade students at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School.
“It was hard because of the relationship I have with my students,” Young said.
Kentavia was shot in the head by a stray bullet around 9 p.m. Monday inside her home, with family putting the final touches on her birthday.
The girl’s family said she had just gotten her hair done, and bought new clothes.
She was preparing for a school basketball game, and using a computer to download images to put on her shirt for the game, when someone started shooting outside and bullets came flying through the window of her home near 158th and Paulina streets.
The victim’s grandfather said he was on the front porch of the home when two males approached and started shooting at him.
The family ducked down, but a bullet struck the girl in the head or neck. Her grandmother said there was a lot of blood coming from her head.
The girl was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn in critical condition.
“She always has a half-smile on her face, but even though it’s a half a smile, it’s always very inviting,” Young said. “So it was rough.”
“When I found out that she was still fighting, that means that I have to still fight,” said Carlene Matthews.
Matthews taught Blackful last year
“Straight A student. She was the president of student council; on the basketball teas,” Matthews said.
On Tuesday night, it was Matthews asking her community to come together, looking not only for a full recovery, but also searching for a solution.
“I can’t wait to see what she’s going to do at Brooks – did you hear? What she’s going to do at Brooks,” Matthews said.
Harvey Mayor Christopher Clark grew up in the neighborhood where the shooting happened and still lives there. He came to the scene Tuesday afternoon to talk to the residents and let them know he was on the case.
“Personally, it destroys my heart. Every child in the city of Harvey is my child – I’ve always believed that, I always think that, and that’s just the way that it is. So from my heart’s standpoint, it really disturbs me greatly,” Clark told CBS 2’s Marissa Parra. “From a mayoral standpoint, I know that I’m now in a position to do everything that I possibly can, working with the community, to try to make sure that things like this don’t happen again in the future.”
Clark said increased police patrols would be brought in immediately.
“I don’t know how something like this happens, but I know one thing is that there’s things that we can do about it. When something like this happens, honestly, it rocks everyone to their core – especially everyone on this block,” he said. “This is a tight block, OK? People know each other. I know people on this block – lots of people on this block. And so it shakes you to your core. But what we have to find out is, OK what went wrong – you know – how do we fix it; how do we make it better? Because we don’t want to see this happening to anyone ever again.”