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Pregnant Teen Shot Dead, Baby Saved

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Charinez Jefferson

Charinez Jefferson, 17 and six months pregnant, was shot and killed overnight in the Marquette Park neighborhood. (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED 08/17/11 9:21 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — A newborn baby was fighting for his life Wednesday afternoon, after his mother was shot and killed on the city’s Southwest Side.

Charinez Jefferson, 17, was six months pregnant when she was shot in the head at 64th and Whipple Streets late Tuesday night.

Doctors at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn were able to save her baby, but Charinez did not survive. Charinez was pronounced dead late Tuesday at the hospital.

As CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot reports, the search for Charinez’s killer continued on Wednesday, while her newborn son remained in critical condition at the hospital.

Debbie Jefferson says her new grandson, Kahmani Jabez Mims, weighs 7 pounds 3 ounces, and she believes he’ll pull through.

“He could be blind. He could probably have retardation, you know, they named a couple other things. I’m a true believer that he’s going to be OK, because if God wanted him, I think He would have taken him when He took my daughter,” Debbie Jefferson said.

But Charinez has left behind a son she has never met, and a 16-month-old son at home.

“Hopefully, he’ll make it, but it’s just sad for two small children that won’t grow up to know their mom,” Debbie Jefferson said.

“My daughter was very outgoing; always willing to help. Even though I’m dealing with bone cancer and breast cancer, she always stepped in to see whatever it was I needed her to do, she didn’t have a problem doing it.”

Charinez would have been a junior in high school this year. Police say they have been talking to witnesses, but no one was in custody in the shooting as of midday Wednesday.

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, the victim’s mother said the gunman got the wrong person.

Her mother, Debbie Jefferson, said Charinez went to a corner store in the Marquette Park neighborhood, and ran into a male friend on the way home. The mother and daughter briefly chatted on the phone.

“Two minutes later, they were knocking at the door saying that she had been shot,” Debbie Jefferson said.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports

Police said Charinez was walking with a group in the 3000 block of West 64th Street around 10:35 p.m. Tuesday, when a man whom no one in the group knew got out of a car and walked up to them. Then he opened fire.

Sources told CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman that the gunman shot Charinez three times in the heart and once in the head.

Bishop Tavis Grant of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition said the killer ignored the teenager’s pleas to spare her life.

“She begged for her life. People who were running from the shooting could hear her crying for her life,” Grant said. “She’s crying don’t kill me.”

Sources also said the man Charinez was with took off after the shooting.

When paramedics arrived, Charinez was in full cardiac arrest. They performed life support treatment and rushed her to the hospital, but could not save her.

Police have not revealed a motive for the shooting, but Debbie Jefferson does not believe her daughter was the intended target.

At the hospital, the baby was delivered via a procedure “typically known as a perimortem C-section, where we actually go in and we try to deliver the baby on an emergency basis,” said Dr. Brian Sayger, the vice chairman of emergency medicine at Advocate Christ.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports

It was a race against the clock in the emergency room. Sayger wasn’t on duty when she was brought in but, says in cases like these, the first priority is to try to save the mother’s life.

“Once we’ve exhausted all our efforts and realize that the mother is not going to have a good outcome, then, our focus is we’ll turn towards the baby in doing our best to save the baby’s life,” he said.

Then, he says it becomes another race against the clock, with every second in the mother’s body reducing the baby’s chance for survival.

“The longer that the child remains in the womb and the mother has already passed, the oxygen levels decrease and the survivability drops dramatically.”

Dr. Sayger says tragic cases like this one are intense and dramatic in the ER.

“There are a lot of people in very small rooms and there’s a lot of intense efforts that go on very quickly because time is critical,” he said.

Sayger said the next 24 to 48 hours will be crucial to determine the child’s outcome. The boy was in critical condition as of Wednesday afternoon.

Community Activist Andrew Holmes said, “We want the shooter turned in. If he killed last night, guess what? He’s gonna kill again.”

Anyone with information about Charinez’s murder is urged to call Wentworth Area Detectives at 312-757-8380. Anonymous tips also can be reported to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-535-STOP or the 800 UTELLUS tip line (800-883-5587).

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