I dont mean to make this seem like a political debate or issue - although I guess I am..
May I assume that the fins Mayor of Chicago will be crying for a ban on baseball bats? Theyre deadly
April 7, 2008
The party in an Englewood home was supposed to be a haven for young teens Saturday night, a chance for them to drink Kool-Aid and dance to their favorite songs, free from the fear of violence that often stalks the streets outside.
But violence found a way in. At about 10:30 p.m., a scuffle broke out in the basement between two of the guests, and the fight ignited a chain of events that led to the death of Albert Vaughn, an 18-year-old man who was fatally struck in the head with a baseball bat as he tried to help the party chaperons usher the kids home.
"We're just trying to do something good for the 'hood because there's nothing but violence around here," said Sunday Turman, 33, who hosted the party. "Next thing you know, he hit the ground right in front of police. That's outrageous.
"There is no reason for this boy to be dead," said Turman, grief-stricken as she gathered with other mourners on the street where they said Vaughn was killed. "All we were doing was trying to make the kids go home."
Late Sunday, police responded to a call in the same block, where a man in his 20s had been shot in the wrist. He was taken to Holy Cross Hospital with what police said were non-life-threatening injuries.
Police released no further information, and it was unclear if the two incidents were related.
Vaughn, a student at Julian High School, was the 23rd Chicago Public Schools student slain this school year.
Witnesses said Vaughn was killed in front of a crowd of people, including police responding to the fight, that had amassed at about 11:10 p.m. in the 7000 block of South Throop Street after the party broke up. In the chaos, with the police cars' flashing blue lights puncturing the darkness, they saw somebody hit Vaughn twice in the head with a metal bat.
"Police arrived as the incident was happening," Chicago Police Officer Marcel Bright said. "Police saw the offender with a bat and chased and eventually apprehended him."
Authorities had a 22-year-old man in custody, but as of Sunday evening, no charges had been filed.
On Sunday morning, friends and family were skeptical police had the right man. As dozens of friends and family gathered near a bloodstain on the street, many of them glared at a group of men watching from a nearby porch. The mourners were certain the real attacker was among the porch onlookers; some of the younger ones said retaliation was inevitable.
In Sunday night's incident, Yolanda Johnson, Vaughn's stepmother, said about 50 people were huddled around Vaughn's memorial when they heard gunshots. Everyone scattered as nearly 10 shots were fired, Johnson said.
"This isn't cool anymore," said Johnson, 37. "They're trying to take out another one of my kids."
Johnson, of the 7000 block of South Elizabeth Street, does not feel safe anymore and plans to vacate her home.
It's that circle of violence that frustrates many in the neighborhood who live within its grip.
"It's like we're against police, against each other. We don't stand a chance," said Trualanda Fields, 35, who was at the Sunday gathering and recounted a fatal shooting last summer at the same corner. "We're in a jungle out here."
Vaughn's family suspects he was killed because gang members did not want Vaughn, who lived a street away, on their turf.
"The only way they could get him was with a bat or a gun," said his sister Amanda, 15.
His family said he was not in a gang. But many of those gathered said it's hard enough to trust anyone outside their own family, much less neighbors, police and sometimes even friends.
"If somebody tried to fight us, he'd be right there," said Vaughn's sister Beverly, 13.
"He was always about family," added their cousin Sarah Ferguson, 14. "Why did they have to take him? Without him, this neighborhood is going to be messed up because he used to take care of everything."
His family and friends described him as easygoing, funny and protective of his loved ones. He loved football, they recalled, and dreamed of becoming an NFL player.
An administrator at Julian said Vaughn transferred from Englewood High School last summer and had had no disciplinary problems. Crisis counselors will be available for students and faculty Monday morning at the school, the administrator added.
Vaughn was not unaffected by the toughness of his neighborhood. A law-enforcement source said he had a criminal record, including an aggravated battery charge.
The man in police custody also had an extensive criminal past and was once charged with murder but was never convicted, the source said.
But despite the rally, despite the party that was supposed to protect the teens from the streets, Vaughn's cousin Jimmy Madden, 14, will always remember Saturday for the violence that still found its way in.
"It was my birthday. He got killed on my birthday," Madden said. "That's something I'll have to live with for the rest of my life."