Inside Chicago's Endless Cycle of Gun Violence - Rolling Stone
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Inside Chicago’s Endless Cycle of Gun Violence

How the death of a beloved basketball star led to more killing

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Is anyone safe from guns in Chicago's toughest neighborhoods?

Illustration by Sarah Allison

Early in the evening on July 26, 2012, Michael Haynes was cruising around Morgan Park on Chicago’s Far South Side when he and his friends, Harry “Slick” Fullilove and Lester “Doogie” Freeman, got word of a fight about to break out. Haynes — who went by Mikey, though also answered to “Big Bro,” “Lil’ Bro,” and “God Bro,” because so many Morgan Park residents considered him family — was a 22-year-old basketball star five days away from heading to Iona College in New York. Slick owned the burgundy Buick and was letting Mikey drive to take a farewell victory lap of the neighborhood. Mikey turned north up Vincennes Avenue, past neat rows of squat single-family Section-8 homes, and parked near the corner of 116th Street.

Mikey was adored in this tight-knit neighborhood. He was a familiar sight on the courts near his house: six-foot-seven with broad shoulders, wearing crisp white Nikes and colorful warm up gear, shooting jumpers and smoking blunts with friends. His bright smile worked on young women and elders alike. He intended to get a college degree, earn a living playing basketball and raise his family out of poverty. That summer, preparing to head off to Iona, he told his childhood friend Phil Greene, a point guard at St. John’s University in Queens, “I’m not coming back until I get my life in order.” 

Michael Haynes

Mikey parked in front of a house that belonged to Cinque “Q” Lee. On the other side of the street, his friend Dominique Parkman, a rail-thin 22 year old who went by “Don P,” was barking threats at JaJuan Lewis, a well-built running back who played college ball in Florida. A few feet from the Buick, Q, then 20 years old, watched the argument from the curb.

Whereas Mikey, the star athlete, got royal treatment in the neighborhood, Q received abuse. He wore coke-bottle glasses that evoked comparisons to PBS’s book-loving cartoon aardvark, Arthur, and preferred video games to sports. He was teased for looking dirty, for being too poor to buy new sneakers and for being widely regarded as too old to be a virgin. More recently, though, Q had gotten involved in the local drug trade.

Everyone there lived along a dozen or so blocks in Morgan Park dubbed “The Jungle.” Four miles past the final stop of the city’s main subway line, in what is known as the Wild 100s, The Jungle’s main drag on Vincennes is a thoroughfare for drugs and violence. Dealers use the two-way street for open sales through car windows, and slip through the “cuts,” spaces between the houses, to more secluded parts of the neighborhood.

Now, Don P and JaJuan were arguing over a 14-carat gold chain that Don P had lent to JaJuan, and JaJuan had apparently lost. “I really wasn’t supposed to give it up,” Don P says. “He caught me at a nice moment.” Earlier that day, Don P had gone to JaJuan’s house, hit him and tried to throw him over a porch railing. Mikey was there and helped break it up.

Seeing they were about to fight again, Mikey left the Buick to intervene, but Doogie stopped him. Doogie said he had seen Q hand JaJuan a gun. Mikey marched over to Q instead. 

Michael Haynes

There are a few takes on what Mikey intended at that moment. Doogie says Mikey was calling out Q for disrespecting a member of the neighborhood’s elite crew; Slick says Mikey was upset to see guys who grew up together rely on a gun to settle an argument; and Q, who denies giving JaJuan a gun, believes Mikey was looking to start a separate fight the moment he exited the Buick.

“Man, you bogus as hell,” Mikey said to Q. “You bogus for giving a gun to one of the guys.” A crowd gathered around them. Mikey’s muscular frame dwarfed Q, who was over six feet. They stood face-to-face, staring each other down, inching closer, spines straightened and chins jutted.

“Fuck the guys,” Q allegedly said.

Mikey punched him in the face with a right cross, knocking off Q’s glasses and sending him into the gate of his own front yard. Q got to his feet, pulled a gun from his waistband and shot Mikey three times.

Everyone scattered. Mikey fell to the ground. As JaJuan and Q fled the scene in JaJuan’s car, Mikey was able to stand up. He told his friends he was fine, and opened the door of the Buick to slide into the passenger’s seat. Don P and Doogie rushed him to the hospital. The top half of Mikey’s white t-shirt turned crimson. His breathing slowed and he passed out. Don P leaned over the seat to hold his fading friend. “Bro, we gonna make it,” Don P said. “And when you done coming out the hospital, Bro, we gonna get back to the females, get back to the money, just gonna live life.”

After Mikey’s family arrived at the medical center, the doctor summoned his father, Louis, into the emergency room. Nurses cleared to let him see his son, who had been struck in the lower back, wrist and chest. Mikey flat lined suddenly. A doctor performed chest compressions. Louis squeezed Mikey’s hand. “I get nights that that’s all I see,” Louis says now. “In that room, trying to revive him. Five days he would’ve been gone from the neighborhood. Five days.”

Mass shootings in Aurora, Newtown and Charleston drum up the national gun debate, but any given holiday weekend with decent weather in Chicago sees similar devastation. Fourth of July weekend this summer left 65 shot and 10 dead, including the seven-year-old son of a gang leader. Memorial Day weekend 2012: 51 shot, 11 killed. Fourth of July weekend 2013: 74 shot, 12 dead. Easter weekend 2014: 45 shot, nine fatalities. In anticipation of Fourth of July weekend last year, hundreds of extra officers patrolled the city’s most violent areas. “What were the results?” Chicago police superintendent Garry McCarthy asked afterward. “The results were a lot of shootings and a lot of murders, unfortunately.” In three and a half days, 82 people were shot and 14 were killed.

Chicago police recover seven times as many guns as New York City cops and more than twice as many as those in Los Angeles. Unsurprisingly, Chicago’s gun-related homicide rate is three times larger than New York and over twice that of L.A. Yale sociologist Andrew Papachristos found the average annual homicide rate during a recent decade in one West Side Chicago neighborhood was 64 per 100,000 people, nearly the casualty rate for civilians in Iraq during the height of the war (hence the nickname “Chiraq”). In 2012, the year Mikey was shot, Chicago was the only city in America to surpass 500 homicides.      

Chicago has passed strict gun laws to little effect. It banned handguns and outlawed gun stores for years, but 60 percent of guns used in Chicago crimes were first purchased out of state. Once in the streets, firearms are often bought and sold within trusted social networks, and tend to be old; the median age of guns confiscated from gang members is over a decade. Recent legal developments, though, have only loosened restrictions: in 2010, the United States Supreme Court overturned the handgun law, and last year a federal judge ruled that prohibiting the sale of firearms was unconstitutional.

Illegal gun possession in Illinois carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison. In Chicago’s most dangerous neighborhoods, illegal gun owners seem willing to risk the time in exchange for protection. Mark Jones, a former special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and an expert on illegal firearms at the University of Chicago Crime Lab, says interviewees consistently tell him, “We are not afraid of the police. We’re afraid of other people in the neighborhood who might try to kill us.”

Gun violence in Chicago is routinely attributed to gangs, but crucial distinctions exist between gangs, cliques and random feuds. Morgan Park is the territory of the Gangster Disciples, one of Chicago’s historic sprawling gangs, the kind that wrote rulebooks and implemented rigid chains of command. But after two decades of police targeting top leaders, the structures fragmented, leaving behind hundreds of less organized and more violent neighborhood cliques. And then there are the armed and unaffiliated like Q.

“Much of the violence today, unlike 20 years ago when it was mostly over the drug trade, is over what would seem reasonably petty matters,” says Alex Kotlowitz, author of the award-winning account of two brothers growing up in Chicago’s projects, There Are No Children Here. “Really what the issue is, some of these kids are involved with these cliques and it’s hard in some neighborhoods not to be.”

Mikey wasn’t a gangbanger, but some of his relatives were established Gangster Disciples, and many of his closest friends, like Don P and Doogie, were members of Morgan Park’s main clique, the Dirty Butts. “Basically, it’s like a family,” says Mikey’s old teammate, Phil Greene. “Even though they street guys, if you’re doing something positive, they’re going to support you. They’re going to have your back. They will be with you.” 

But when affiliations are loose and firearms are plentiful, the likelihood that two people will cross paths at the wrong moment, with tragic consequences, becomes that much greater. “Because the gangs were so well-organized, the shooting was fairly targeted,” Kotlowitz says. “And today, it feels so much more random and so many more people getting caught in a crossfire.”

Mikey spent his first decade living with his mother and three brothers in a house on 115th Street and Vincennes. Louis floated in and out, while working up to 70 hours a week as a car salesman in nearby Merrillville, Indiana. When Mikey was 11, his mother, Grace, died of complications from lupus. He and his two younger brothers, Brian and Marcus, eventually settled two blocks away at the home of their maternal grandmother, Annie, on 117th and Vincennes. She has debilitating arthritis that keeps her bound to the house; Mikey bragged that when he turned pro he would move her into a mansion with an elevator. 

Some of his friends earned cash by stealing or selling drugs, but Mikey cultivated a better hustle on the basketball courts at nearby Blackwelder Park. He would get a loan, maybe $20, and find someone brazen enough to wager against him in a shooting contest. His winnings could total as much as $150. A crew formed around him. He developed an enviable swagger and always seemed the center of attention.  

“He won all the girls,” Don P says.

“Shoot, that’s why I hanging with him,” says Slick, who was six years older than Mikey. “He ain’t have no money, no car. They just loved him for him.”

Forces beyond girls and talent bolstered Mikey’s standing in Morgan Park as well. He was third generation — Annie had come to Chicago as part of the Great Migration of African Americans fleeing the South in the first half of the 20th century. The descendants of these early residents held an elevated status in The Jungle. They could summon much of the neighborhood for backup with a phone call. “We looked out for each other,” says Mikey’s uncle, Melvin Kimbrough. “We protected the territory. We were about protecting where we were from.”

Another wave of new residents came to Morgan Park a decade ago. To promote mixed-income communities, the Chicago Housing Authority opted to demolish a number of its largest public housing projects. Many of the towers’ residents protested the decision, but between 1995 and 2011, the city tore down three infamous furnaces of violence — the Cabrini-Green, Ida B. Wells and Robert Taylor Homes — and funneled tenants through what the National Housing Institute has called a “flawed relocation process.”

Many of them moved to Morgan Park. “That, in essence, was the turn of the neighborhood,” says Loren Jackson, Mikey’s AAU coach and a Morgan Park native. “You started to see more gang activity and a lot more drugs.” 

Cabrini-Green housing project

John Williams, a charismatic fixture in the neighborhood, moved to an area west of The Jungle from the Robert Taylor Homes in 2000. His rare combination of book smarts and ball-handling skills allowed him to run with a number of the younger groups in Morgan Park. But now, 24, a father and a security guard, he acknowledges how disruptive new arrivals like him were to the neighborhood. “They put all of us in these buildings and let us reproduce and reproduce, not give us any means in society, then just tear the buildings down and flood us all out,” he says. “Now you’ve got all these people from different cultural backgrounds mixing with these other neighborhoods.”

Q was a part of the influx. He spent his early childhood in a suburb south of Chicago, in a large house with his parents and two siblings. After his father went to prison for shooting a police officer in 1999, he moved to the Robert Taylor Homes to live with his grandmother. When the towers came down, the family relocated to 116th and Vincennes in Morgan Park — a block from Mikey. Two years later, Q’s mother died from a heart attack.

When he first came to Morgan Park, a group of kids gave Q a welcome-to-the-neighborhood beating. A year before Mikey’s death, a dozen members of the Dirty Butts threatened Q, JaJuan, and Williams with baseball bats. According to Williams, Q had a reputation as a weakling and a pushover, “the type of person that if you punch him, he ain’t going to do nothing.”

Mikey was supposed to be the type of person who made it out. To improve his standing in the eyes of college recruiters, he enrolled at George Washington High School on the east side of Chicago his sophomore year. The already formidable team included future Oklahoma City Thunder guard, DeAndre Liggins. At 16, Mikey was six-feet-five-inches tall, and averaged nearly 20 rebounds a game against the city’s toughest competition. George Washington lost the Chicago public school championship that year to Simeon Career Academy, led by its dazzling point guard, future NBA MVP Derrick Rose.

But Mikey’s career at George Washington was cut short halfway through his junior year. “Mike did himself in because he didn’t go to class,” says George Washington’s former athletic director, Harold Stevens. “He’d be in school all day, but he wouldn’t do nothing.” One of his former teammates, Paris Paramore, remembers helping him through a fractions assignment typically given to fifth graders. He was failing multiple courses and should have been deemed academically ineligible to play under league rules. But school officials are thought to have looked the other way. “Somebody had to tell [Mikey], ‘Don’t worry about it,'” Stevens says.

A new administration arrived in January 2008, and suspended Mikey from the basketball team due to his poor grades. Mikey transferred to Fenger High School, an overcrowded, predominantly black public school on the South Side. A district policy prohibits students from competing in sports for a year after transferring, which effectively ended Mikey’s high school career in Chicago – he could only practice with the team.

At one of his first practices with the new squad, he had an altercation on the court with another Fenger player. “They thought Mikey was just a hooper,” Slick says, “that he ain’t have nobody that’s gonna pull up.” By the time the team exited the gym, Phil Greene, who played for Fenger, says Mikey’s protection was waiting in the parking lot “car loads deep.” Along with Slick was Mikey’s oldest brother, Terrence, who had done time for selling cocaine and aggravated assault. “That was us,” Slick says. “Make that phone call. We will be there. That’s why I say, ‘We a family.'”

Though Mikey didn’t lace up for a single game his senior year, he was still ranked the 12th best player in the state, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. During a postgraduate year at Heat Basketball Academy, a now defunct prep school based in Virginia, Duke University briefly recruited him. (Duke assistant coach Nate James saw Mikey as a “guy who can bring defense and toughness and grit” with a “great smile.”)

Ultimately, Mikey landed a scholarship to play for The University of Texas at El Paso, a mediocre program in a mid-major conference that occasionally qualifies for the NCAA tournament. Mikey was almost immediately in academic trouble. He had never competed against such a high caliber of talent either. Rather than work on his grades and fight for a spot on the court, he dropped out after the fall semester.

Six months later, in the summer of 2011, Mikey’s former AAU coach Loren Jackson got him a spot on the roster of Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa. Though only a five-hour drive from Chicago, the rural small town – where the population is 98 percent white – might as well have been a foreign country for an inner-city black kid with tattoos covering a seven-foot wingspan. (Mikey once wondered at the sight of an unfamiliar creature on the side of an Iowa road; it was a deer.) But the school quickly embraced him. He electrified crowds with rattling two-handed dunks and a signature roar – fists clenched, muscles flexed, and a bellicose cry reverberating against the walls – and led Indian Hills to the junior college national championship tournament.

Off the court, Mikey struggled in his new surroundings. He cried to his coach, feeling guilty about his cushy college life, and anguished over abandoning his grandmother and youngest brother, Marcus. But early flirtations with a group of cheerleaders turned into anchoring friendships. He would pop into their dorm after practice for late-night pancakes, and often hung out with a sophomore cheerleader, Jenna Strom, whose dad has been out of her life since she was 11. They confided in each other. “We’d have this thing where we’d say, ‘Dads aren’t real,'” Strom says.

After his standout season in Iowa, Mikey got another chance to play basketball at the next level: Iona College, a small Division-I school north of Manhattan, offered him a scholarship. In order to enroll, he had to take one more course — a math course — and finish his associate’s degree. He considered staying in Ottumwa that summer and getting a job at Home Depot, but he decided to complete the class online from Morgan Park instead. He couldn’t imagine his crew sweating together on the courts of Blackwelder Park, while he shot jumpers alone in the air-conditioned gym at Indian Hills. “Mikey thought he would’ve missed something,” Liggins, his old George Washington teammate, says of the neighborhood’s gravitational pull. “Anything can happen anywhere, but Chicago is known for killing.”

Michael Haynes

Shortly after Mikey left for Indian Hills, in October 2011, Q’s grandmother died from lung disease. Even after his mother’s death five years earlier, Q had remained disciplined in a high school ROTC program and aspired to become a naval engineer. He spent free time developing modest mechanical skills, installing air conditioning units and tinkering with cars in a neighbor’s backyard. But without his grandmother, he had to support himself and his siblings with the cash he earned on the assembly line of a frozen pizza factory. More profitable opportunities were in the street in front of his house. He started selling marijuana.

Q quickly embraced the life of a small-time dealer, inviting other sellers and gangbangers to stay at his house for weeks at a time. An uncle who struggled with crack addiction moved in as well. It became a go-to spot for illicit fun in Morgan Park. A local rapper filmed a music video there. Even Mikey occasionally swept through to party.

“Cinque’s thing was trying to fit in with people around him,” says Q’s next-door neighbor, Wadell Hardy, who’s an officer with the Chicago Police Department. “That wasn’t his demeanor when I met him.”

Hardy had been close with Q’s family. Q did odd jobs for him and sometimes had dinner at his house, where they discussed the importance of attending college. He watched Q transform into a drug dealer with horror. Once, Hardy’s wife pulled up in front of their home, and a teenager tapped on her window, assuming she was a buyer. When Hardy threatened to shut the operation down, Q shrugged, then pulled on his blunt. Hardy drew up a 14-page report of Section 8 violations, but never filed it. “The day that I was submitting it,” he says,  “was when the incident occurred.”

That morning of July 26th, Q walked out into his front yard and said hello to his 16-year-old neighbor, Aliczay Christian. It was well known that Q had a crush on her, and that she constantly snubbed him. But he was no longer a sheepish nerd. He wore more expensive clothes and thumbed a wad of cash. Christian remembers he had a grave look on his face.

“What’s the matter Cinque?” she asked.

“Nothing,” Q said. “Just trying to get this bread.”

A few weeks earlier, Q was robbed at gunpoint. It was only then that he bought his .380 semi-automatic pistol.

Mikey’s 21-year-old younger brother Brian was sitting in a car on Vincennes, with Doogie and Don P hanging out on the curb, when he received a phone call that Mikey was dead. Doogie and Don P had left the hospital only an hour earlier. Brian looked furious. “He just lost his mind like a mad man,” Don P says. “I just let him be. Let him go.” 

MIchael Haynes

Brian and Mikey stuck close together, but had very different personalities. They were briefly teammates on the varsity squad at George Washington. Gabriel Fuentes, the assistant coach at the time, describes Mikey as thoughtful, while Brian “was disrespectful” and “a bit more into being a thug.” Brian quit the team, and at 17 was charged with three crimes in four months: battery, assault and disorderly conduct. One police report describes him as a “self-admitted and documented Gangster Disciple.”

Armed with a pistol, his face red and eyes bloodshot from crying, Brian marched from the car toward 116th Street. He kicked in the door of JaJuan’s house and fired a shot. No one was home. He went across the street to Q’s house and banged on the porch window with his gun. Q’s sister, cousin, and 15-month-old nephew ran into a back room. Q’s brother jumped out a window. Only Q’s uncle stayed put.

Brian kicked in the door. “Where’s Cinque?” He shouted.

“Don’t shoot!” Q’s uncle begged, holding up his hands. Brian fired a shot into the wall and left.

Brian walked home still holding his gun. He had fired two shots in plain sight, but didn’t feel the need to run off the main drag, to slip through “the cuts.” No one would interfere. “It’s not nothing to hide about,” Doogie says. “Cinque killed Mikey in front of all of us.”

Even after police arrested Brian that night, the neighborhood was in havoc. The next day, Q’s house was set ablaze by a burning mattress and JaJuan’s went up with a Molotov cocktail. Brian was ultimately sentenced to 27 years for criminal trespassing and aggravated discharge of a firearm.

After shooting Mikey, Q briefly made a run for it. At some point, JaJuan kicked him out of the car, and Q hopped a bus north, then got on a train, trying to get as far from the South Side as possible. He laid low at a friend’s house before his father, who had been released from prison a few months earlier, persuaded him to turn himself in.

News of Q’s capture unleashed a frenzy of ridicule on Twitter.

@VScott1: “How the fuck you could pull a trigger but scared to get ya dick wet…..niggas got life fucked up”

@PrettyNittney @ VScott1: “This goofy ass nigga Cinque went to jail a virgin….smfh” “lmfao not for lonnnnng” lmao they gone abuse him

In his mug shot, Q has short, bristly dreads and facial hair creeping up his neck. In person, four months later at the Cook County Correctional Center, he looks cleaned up, albeit in handcuffs and a green jumpsuit. He is wearing contact lenses. His hair is buzzed and his cheeks freshly shaved. “To look presentable for the judge,” he explains. 

Cinque "Q" Lee

His voice is soft, and he smiles as he recalls aspects of his life before his dad went to prison, and his mother and grandmother died. His fondest family memory is the time he rode in a speedboat while on vacation in Orlando. He laughs remembering how he thought the fish would leap out of the water and into his lap. He still seems like a meek video game nerd, only hardened.

He’s dismissive about shooting Mikey. “It was a natural reaction,” he says. 

Isn’t there a sense of remorse, though, for killing someone you hung around for years?

“Like, there’s no feeling about it,” he says.

Then who’s to blame for Mikey’s death? 

“I don’t blame anybody,” he says. “It’s just life.”

Q pleaded not guilty on grounds of self-defense. In November 2012, he was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 14 years in prison.

More than a thousand people squeezed inside the Salem Baptist Church for Mikey’s funeral on August 3, 2012, requiring extra chairs and making the choir section standing-room only. Friends, family, former teammates and community members from throughout the South Side lined up before an extra-long casket. Mikey was dressed in a yellow suit and matching tie. His No. 21 maroon and gold Indian Hills jersey was draped over his chest.

Seated in the very center of the congregation, surrounded by local mourners, four cheerleaders from Iowa held each other and cried. When they stopped at a police station to ask for directions, the cops warned them not to go. “We were all definitely scared,” says Mikey’s college friend, Jenna Strom. Before the cheerleaders exited their van parked a few blocks from the church, Strom had everyone bow their heads and pray for safety. “We knew Mike was going to protect us,” she says. 

Two weeks earlier, Mikey told his father that he had a son.

“Really?” Louis asked. “When will he be born?”

“Nah, Daddy,” Mikey said. “He’s already a year and a half old.”

The mother, Latiesha Moore, had largely stayed out of Mikey’s life, not wanting to derail his basketball career with the burdens of raising a child. “He just got more goals than I did,” she says. “I just didn’t want to ruin none of that.” 

MIchael Haynes

Louis has pledged to help raise the baby. “He needs a chance too,” he says.

Some saw Mikey as a noble victim killed for trying to prevent violence. “Mikey was a good kid, but he was not going to back down from a situation that’s wrong and he was trying to stop something from escalating,” Iona coach Tim Cluess says. “And he ends up getting shot because of it. And to me, that’s a hero.”

But those who understand the workings of Morgan Park —its inescapable street code enforced with handguns — believe his undoing was more complicated. “I think he was flirting between the street and basketball,” Liggins says. “Mikey did want to live up to that street life.”

Pastor Dearal L. Jordan approached the pulpit and scanned the room spotted with gang colors. He pleaded for peace and offered a chance for attendees to give up their guns. “If you’re packing a weapon, leave it under the bench,” he said. “We ought to stop the shooting for a day or two.” His request for weapons went unanswered, he now says: “No one left any behind.”

The cycle of violence continued on the afternoon of May 28, 2013, when JaJuan Lewis made his first trip back to Morgan Park. After Mikey’s killing, he hid out at his three-year-old son Jordan’s mother’s house, before heading off to play football at Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, Florida. Although his family’s home had been torched, JaJuan believed tensions had since subsided ­– after all, he figured, the argument over Don P’s chain had nothing to do with Q shooting Mikey. He picked up John Williams at 115th and Vincennes in a white Dodge Avenger, with Jordan in a car seat in the back. “He still felt like, ‘OK, I’m from the neighborhood,” Williams says. “‘I’m feeling to see what’s going on.'”

JaJuan let Williams drive. They stopped to buy a bag of chips and then drove south on Vincennes. Near the corner of 116th Street, they passed Don P, who was hanging on the block with three other guys. Don P spotted JaJuan in the car and pulled the bottom of his shirt above the waistband of his pants, a threat that he had a gun. JaJuan had a gun too, which he kept under a seat in the car. “Turn back around, bro,” he told Williams. “Let’s go holla’ at them.”

Williams parked the Dodge just down the block from Q’s old house on Vincennes. They got out of the car, leaving Jordan in the backseat, and approached Don P.

“Why y’all reaching for guns?” JaJuan said. “Why everybody saying my name, like I had something to do with Mikey getting killed?”

Don P denied having a gun on him, which seemed to put JaJuan at ease – he had left his gun in the car. Williams says JaJuan wanted to talk it out, and that Don P appeared to act like the feud was over.

After a brief exchange, Williams and JaJuan turned back to the car. Williams heard the explosive sounds of “a barrage of bullets.” JaJuan fell to the ground beside him. Williams scrambled to the passenger’s side and opened the backdoor to grab JaJuan’s son. He sprinted with Jordan in his arms into the nearest backyard. When he felt sure Don P had cleared out, he walked back to the street. JaJuan was on his stomach, gasping for air. Williams placed Jordan on the sidewalk.

“They killed my daddy,” the boy repeatedly cried.

JaJuan had been shot four times in the back. “He was conscious for a minute,” Williams says. “Then he just laid his head down.” By the time an ambulance arrived, JaJuan was dead.

In March of this year, authorities extradited Don P back to Chicago from Miami, where he hid out for almost two years, and charged him with first-degree murder. He has entered a plea of not guilty. His trial reconvened this week. 

Don P

Recently, while hanging out on Vincennes, Williams says someone fired shots at him and another friend. He wasn’t able to identify the shooter, but has a hunch it was one of “Don P’s people.” “Hopefully it’s over,” Williams says. “You never know.”

Q shot Mikey, Don P shot JaJuan, and now someone had shot at Williams. “I got a theory that every time somebody gets killed, it wakes up another killer,” he says. Then, almost filling in the gaps of his theory, Williams imagines what other Dirty Butts or Gangster Disciples might have said to Don P to perpetuate the violence. “They probably was pressuring Don P,” he says. “‘Mikey got killed over your chain. If you had settled that in a different manner, Mikey never would’ve gotten killed. It’s up to you, boy. You the one that gotta do this. You got to take care of people out here.'”

In This Article: Basketball, Chicago, Gun control, Murder


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