CHICAGO (CBS) — Loved ones of the 6-month-old girl who was shot and killed in the Woodlawn neighborhood last week gathered at a local church Tuesday morning for her funeral.
WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports the line outside New Beginnings Church, at 6620 S. King Dr., stretched around the corner, with people coming to pay their respects to the family of Jonylah Watkins. Funeral services were set to begin at 11 a.m.
Dressed in white, Jonylah’s parents stood over her casket inside the church and appeared to kiss their little girl as two video screens showed pictures of the girl nicknamed “Smooch” by her father.
The casket was surrounded by flowers and stuffed animals, including several of Eeyore, a character in the Winnie the Pooh books. Her parents spent several minutes looking down at Jonylah, weeping, as they held each other and prepared to say goodbye to their baby.
“They’re going to really have a tough time today, and that’s the reason why it’s good that so many people are here being compassionate, being loving, and showing them a lot of care and concern, because they really need it,” said Rev. Corey Brooks, the pastor at New Beginnings.
Some of those in attendance at Jonylah’s funeral on Tuesday know her family, others just felt compelled to reach out to those who lost such a young child.
“It’s just horrible. … Chicago needs to really do something. They really need to do something. We love our children, we want to keep them here, we want to see them grow,” said Tracy, who lives across the street.
Brooks’ church has hosted many funerals for victims of gun violence, but at 6 months old, Jonylah is the youngest.
CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports Jonylah was shot as she was sitting in her father’s lap in the driver’s seat of a minivan parked in the 6500 block of South Maryland Avenue on March 11, when a gunman approached the van and opened fire.
One bullet struck Jonylah, damaging several organs, and she died the next morning. Her father was also wounded in the attack.
Police believe Jonathan Watkins was the intended target in the shooting. He has a significant criminal background, but has been cooperating with police.
“The message that all of us want – and that I know Jonathan wants – is that they want a killer to be caught, and that’s it. That’s the bottom line. We want a killer to be caught; nothing more, nothing less,” Brooks said.
Police Supt. Garry McCarthy confirmed Monday that Watkins has been cooperating with detectives, but said he could do more to assist in the search for Jonylah’s killer.
“At this point there’s a lot more he can help us with but is cooperating with the investigation,” McCarthy said Monday.
McCarthy has said police think they know what happened, they just need to prove it.
“We are going to close this case, there’s no doubt in my mind,” said McCarthy.