Shirley Chambers raised four kids in Chicago, in the Cabrini-Green neighborhood on the Near North Side, understanding that gun violence in her neighborhood was among the highest in the country.
Prior to this weekend, shootings cost her the lives of three out of her four children.
On Sunday, seven people were killed in Chicago due to gun violence and another six were injured — a rate uncommonly high for one day. One of the seven victims was Ronnie Chambers, Shirley’s last surviving child, who was shot in the head while riding in a van on South Mozart Street early Sunday morning.
A family friend named Laverne Smith, 30, spoke to the Chicago Tribune about the accident. Smith, who lives near the scene, heard the shots and came outside to find Ronnie shot in the head.
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Ronnie, 33, has been arrested 29 times according to police, but has lately been “trying to change his life,” Smith said.
Ronnie appeared on “The Ricky Lake Show” in December and identified himself as a former gang member, and was trying to keep others from travelling down that same path.
Sunday night, he had been helping out at an event for an aspiring rapper named YK, and was returning home when he was shot, Smith told police.
In 1995, Carlos Chambers, who was 18 at the time, was shot and killed at the corner of Jackson Boulevard and State Street after having a disagreement with another boy. LaToya Chambers was killed in 2000 at the age of 15 in the lobby of a Cabrini-Green high-rise when her boyfriend and a 13-year-old boy got into an argument. Jerome Chambers died just two months after his sister at the age of 23 after a maroon van pulled up to the pay phone booth he was standing in and opened fire.
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In an interview with the Tribune after Jerome’s death, Ronnie said, “I ask myself, 'Why am I still here?' Out of all of them, I was the one who got in trouble," he said. "They didn't do anything wrong."
"They say you can't outrun death, but I can try to dodge it," Ronnie said in 2000. "I don't even try to live day by day anymore; it's more like second by second."