CHICAGO – With over 40 homicides and more than 150 shootings in Chicago, the country’s third most populous city reached a grim death toll in January.
Among them were 15-year-old honor student and majorette Hadiya Pendleton, whose death re-charged a national debate on gun control reform, and Ronnie Chambers, 33, who was the fourth of Shirley Chambers’ children to die from gun violence in Chicago.
Chambers gave her last respects to her son Monday in a church on the near North Side of Chicago where there was standing room only.
Friends and family who gave remarks remembered Ronnie Chambers, whose nickname was “Scooby,” as someone who was “always networking” and “pointing kids in the right direction.”
In a sanctuary filled with more than 400 people, one friend remarked, “Scooby was like everybody’s hero.”
“He did so much in so little time,” a friend from the music industry said. “I’m just speechless. I love him.”
In a December appearance on The Ricki Lake Show, Ronnie Chambers shared that he had a tumultuous past, but after seeing his siblings die, wanted to become a better person for his mother.
As people shared fond memories of Ronnie Chambers, his mother sat, sometimes weeping, sometimes smiling, remembering her son in her own way.
Chambers knows the feeling all too well. She lost her 18-year-old son Carlos to gun violence in 1995. In 2000, Chambers’ 23-year-old son Jerome and 15-year-old daughter LaToya were both shot to death outside of a Cabrini-Green housing facility just months apart.
A local music producer and reformed gang member, Ronnie Chambers went to Chicago’s West Side late on Jan. 26 after attending a listening party for one of his artists.
Police said at around 2:15 a.m., they responded to a call of shots fired in the 1100 block of South Mozart Street. When they arrived on the scene, they found Ronnie Chambers sitting in a parked van with a gunshot wound to the head.
According to police, a second man was shot in his arm and leg, and was taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital for treatment. Ronnie Chambers was pronounced dead on the scene, police said. He is part of an already advanced number of murders in Chicago in 2013.
Chicago’s residents are crying out for a remedy to the city’s violence issue. In 2012, the city shamefully topped 500 murders for the first time in four years.
Hadiya Pendleton died on Jan. 29, just days after returning from Washington D.C. with her school band as they performed in some of President Barack Obama’s inauguration festivities. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel announced last week plans to take 200 police officers in administrative positions off the desk and place them on the streets. Although the suggestion was previously recommended by city officials, according to NBC Chicago, it took on a new significance when Pendleton became the poster child for Chicago’s high murder rate.
In light of Pendleton’s death, civil rights leader and former presidential candidate Rev. Jesse Jackson led about 150 people in a march Saturday highlighting the gun violence issue and asked President Barack Obama to come to Chicago to address the epidemic.
Renita D. Young is a Chicago-based multimedia journalist. Follow her on Twitter @RenitaDYoung.