Escalating Gun Violence in Chicago Claims Life of 7-Year-Old Heaven Sutton

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The Windy City’s escalating gun violence epidemic has claimed yet another innocent life.

Heaven Sutton, 7, died Wednesday after a stray bullet struck her in the back of the head. According to eyewitness reports, Sutton fled for cover when she heard the gunshots. An errant shot connected with the little girl's head before she could escape.

Sutton is the fourth person to be killed by gunfire in her West Side neighborhood and the 20th victim under the age of 17 to be killed in Chicago this year, according to the Chicago Tribune. The ailing Midwestern city has experienced a 40 percent rise in gun violence since last year resulting in over 250 homicides already in 2012.

Ashake Banks (pictured below), Sutton’s mother, described her daughter to ABC News. “She loved to sing, dance and crack jokes. And she always smiled…They killed my baby.”

Two notorious street gangs, the Four Corner Hustlers and the Mafia Insane Vice Lords, have been warring over territory in Sutton’s neighborhood since the beginning of the year. Police are reportedly seeking a person of interest in the killing.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose nascent administration has been all but consumed by the gun violence in Chicago’s west and south sides, had harsh words for the criminals responsible for Sutton’s slaying. “This is not about crime. This is about values. You’re a member of a gang coming to get lemonade and another gang member is driving by. Where were you raised and who raised you? Stay away from the kids?”

Though Chicago remains a far safer city than it was during the 1990s, this is the first time in almost 10 years that the Second City recorded 250-plus homicides in the first half of the year.