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Chicago baby, shot with father during a diaper change, dies

March 12, 2013|By Matt Pearce | This post has been corrected. See note below for details.

In Chicago, certain names have become synonymous with a specific type of tragedy for girls, which can be recalled with bleak and brief synopsis: Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old majorette, shot in the back after coming home from President Obama's inauguration; Janay McFarlane, 18, gunned down in North Chicago while walking with friends -- her 14-year-old sister had just heard the president give a speech about gun violence.

Now there is another name to add.

Six-month-old Jonylah Watkins died at a hospital Tuesday morning after being shot while getting her diaper changed by her father, who was shot too.

She is survived by her 20-year old mother -- who had once been shot in the leg while eight months' pregnant -- and her father, Jonathan Watkins, 29, who remained in the hospital in serious condition, officials said.

"This is another tragedy, because no child, and certainly not an infant, should be the victim of gang violence," Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said at a televised news conference. "Which, by the way, at this point, although there's a lot of angles that we're pursuing, there are very strong gang overtones to this particular event."

Police said Watkins had parked his van on the street to change his daughter's diaper when the gunman approached from behind and fired several shots into the van. The shooter then ran through an empty lot and into a blue minivan, speeding away.

"Based on the ballistics and the position of the father and the baby in the car, he was shooting at the father," McCarthy said.

He added, "Right now, we don't have one real good witness at this point."

The death comes a day after McCarthy started a push for a "broken windows" law-enforcement strategy in Chicago that would punish more small crimes in the hope that the effort will prevent bigger crimes -- the idea being that allowing just one broken window will lead to many more broken windows.

According to the latest available mortality data kept by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 20,033 women and girls were killed in gun homicides between 2000 and 2010, with gun homicides against women at its lowest rate in 2010.

Black women and girls were 3-1/2 times more likely to have been killed in a shooting than white females, according to the data, with their deaths most likely coming in their 20s.

[For the record, 2:11 p.m., March 12: An earlier version of this post did not specify where Janay McFarlane was shot. McFarlane, a Chicago woman, was shot while visiting North Chicago, which is a suburb of Chicago.]

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matt.pearce@latimes.com

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