March 12, 2013

A 6-month-old infant girl shot five times on Chicago's South Side Monday died in the hospital Tuesday morning.

Jonylah Watkins was rushed to Comer Children's Hospital Monday afternoon in serious-to-critical condition after being shot in the 6500 block of South Maryland Avenue in the city's Woodlawn neighborhood around 12:48 p.m. Her father, Jonathan Watkins, had been changing her diaper in the front passenger seat of a Chevy Venture minivan when a gunman approached them and opened fire. He fled in a waiting van.

Jonylah was wounded in her lung, liver, leg, shoulder and bowel or intestine, according to DNAinfo Chicago, and had undergone at least five hours of surgery.

"The girl's father, identified by family as Jonathan Watkins, 28, was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was in serious-to-critical condition, police said. A police source said he is a known member of the Gangster Disciples street gang."

ABC7 Chicago reports:

"This appears to be a targeted incident. It was very clear that whoever was doing this was firing at the father and exclusively at the father," said Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.

Police say that the baby's father Jonathan Watkins, who was wounded and remains hospitalized, has an extensive criminal record and has been in and out of the system. A source says Watkins has at least 30 arrests.

Police believe it was a gang-related retaliatory shooting and that the gunman cared not about an innocent baby caught in the line of fire.

"This is a senseless, despicable act of violence that is heartbreaking," said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "So, yes, we saw progress, but that is only one measure and I will not rest until all the progress is in all parts of the city."

The gunman, it's believed, ran from the shooting scene to a waiting blue van. A police camera in the neighborhood did catch an image of the van leaving the area, but it may not provide enough detail to immediately help investigators.

Jonylah's mother said she doesn't know who might have been targeting her husband and said he was in disbelief that the baby had died.

“He loved this baby," Judy Watkins said Tuesday afternoon from a makeshift memorial at the scene of the shooting on South Maryland Avenue. "When I told him this morning that she died, he was crying. He can't believe it.”

Judy Watkins also denied earlier reports that she had been shot while pregnant with Jonylah last year.

In a news conference, Mayor Rahm Emanuel decried the murder as "despicable."

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