Girl, 14, Killed When Car Slams Into Building In Maywood
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UPDATED 09/27/11 9:43 p.m.
MAYWOOD, Ill. (CBS) — Maywood police are looking for the passenger of a car that crashed into an apartment building after a shooting early Tuesday morning, killing a girl as she was sleeping.
Maywood police said the driver of the car was in the hospital and could face charges.
The gray 2010 Hyundai Elantra crashed into a living room at the apartment building at 846 19th Ave., near Madison Street. Maywood police said its driver had been shot about half a mile away, near 19th Avenue and Harrison Street.
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Neighbor Frederick Wilson told CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman that one minute he was sitting on the sofa in his apartment and, the next minute, “Bang, that’s all I heard.”
What Wilson heard was a car crashing through his neighbor’s window and landing right on top of 14-year-old Dominique Thomas and her younger brother.
Dominique died from her injuries. Her 12-year old brother, Lavon, was also sleeping on the couch and was injured. Their 25-year old brother, Bryant, says Lavon is in “stable condition” at Loyola University Medical Center.
The details of the shooting remain unknown, but the driver told police his passenger got out of the car and ran off right after the crash.
Sources told CBS 2 that the gunfire might have been part of a gang turf war.
Dominique’s 5th grade teacher spoke of violence in the area.
“Being a teacher, you worry about things like this happening,” Tasha Dudley said. “It’s not just will my students go to college and will they prosper? It’s will they be alive to make it and it’s very, very hard.”
At the scene, tire tracks were seen on the wet lawn leading up to the apartment building.
The car had Texas license plates, and CBS 2 sister station KTVT-TV, Dallas, found that it is apparently a rental car from the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
The victim’s cousin, Brian Treadwell, who lives in the same building, told CBS 2’s Susanna Song that Dominique was sleeping on the couch in the living room of her family’s one-bedroom garden apartment. The car landed on top of her after plowing through the front yard and into the building.
“Dominique was a beautiful young girl,” Treadwell said. “Very bright, intelligent … I had just seen her maybe a couple hours before.”
Family friends joined him Tuesday night at the place where Dominique died.
Velma Sturdivant said she left something at the makeshift memorial outside the home “because it could have been mine, it could have one of mine and it just hurts me inside to just see something like this happen.”
Dominique’s older brother Bryant had been in a cousin’s unit upstairs and heard the crash. Bryant Thomas says his parents Barry and Wanda sleep in the bedroom of the apartment, and that he and his two siblings would sleep in the living room.
Dominique was pronounced dead on the scene at 1:48 a.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.
Dominique was a freshman at Proviso East High School, and was described by her friends and family as wonderful and fun.
“She was a loving girl – loving girl; just started high school, just graduated 8th grade last year. She had whole life ahead of her,” brother Bryant Thomas said tearfully. “She played basketball, volleyball, all types of sports. She liked cooking – just a normal 14-year-old girl.”
Jeremy Thomas, another brother, only learned of his sister’s death Tuesday morning when he arrived at his home to find TV trucks surrounding the accident scene.
“She was my little sister,” he said, crumpling onto the doorstep as he learned the terrible news.
Neighbors Tuesday morning also said they were devastated by the news.
“It’s too violent around here. That’s why I would be making the kids go in the house early, because there’s too much stuff going on around here,” said neighbor Tywan Carter. “That’s sad – the little 14-year-old girl had to die.”
Another neighbor, Cheryl Walter, says the area had been fairly quiet until recently.
“A lot of this for a couple of weeks has been surprising me,” she said. “Other than that, it’s usually a calm, cool block.”
In recent weeks, the block has been plagued with a rash of violence.
On Saturday, Sept. 17, Johntue Tate, 17, was shot and killed near his home on the same block. He had been watching a boxing match at a neighbor’s home, and went outside briefly with another man around 11:30 p.m. when a gunman fired shots, police said. Tate was pronounced dead t Loyola, while the other man, Donald Williams, survived gunshots to both legs.
Earlier on Sept. 17, another man, Vincent Frazier Jr. of Chicago’s South Austin neighborhood, was shot and killed around 3:45 a.m. in the common area of another building on the same block.
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.