The last day of 6-year-old Arianna Gibson’s life was spent doing what she loved best: playing outside with friends and bragging about how excited she was to start school.
CHICAGO (AP) — The last day of 6-year-old Arianna Gibson’s life was spent doing what she loved best: playing outside with friends and bragging about how excited she was to start school.
Arianna died early Sunday after shots were fired into the Chicago home where she was staying with her grandmother, a visit she made especially so she could attend a back-to-school block party.
"She was always coming to her grandma’s," said her grandmother, Christine "C.C." Collins. "She was a really sweet baby."
Chicago authorities said Arianna suffered two gunshot wounds — to the chest and arm — and was pronounced dead at a hospital around 7 a.m. Two teenagers, both 17-year-old family friends, were also injured after at least one gunman fired through the front window of the brick single-family home. Police said it was unclear if the child was a target.
Arianna had been sleeping on a couch when the shooting took place.
She would have started first grade on Monday and was eagerly anticipating classes, said her mother Demitta Collins, especially since Arianna would get to be at school for the whole day for the first time.
"She bragged, ‘I’m going to be gone all day, gone from 8 to 2," her mother said.
The shooting on a quiet residential block of the city’s impoverished Englewood neighborhood happened just hours after neighbors held the peaceful block party where friends and family donated school supplies.
Arianna — who wore her hair that day in braids with pink and yellow barrettes — was among the children who played outside.
Neighbors parked their cars at the end of the block to keep out traffic. Grills were freely stationed on the street, along with card tables and chairs. Children drew chalk drawings on the sidewalks. Some danced to music — from Aretha Franklin to Busta Rhymes — which blared from speakers another neighbor had set out in the yard.
Arianna, who chit-chatted with friends and her grandmother outside their home, practiced twirls.
The party went into the evening. Just hours after the neighborhood streets had been cleaned up, residents reported hearing multiple gunshots around 6 a.m.
Christine Collins said the sound woke her up and she went to the front room.
"I saw my grandbaby, she had fallen out of bed," Collins described through sobs.
Chicago police spokesman John Mirabelli said at least one gunman fired shots through a window. No one was in custody Sunday.
"Detectives are still looking at a motive," said Robert Perez, another police spokesman.
The 17-year-old girl suffered a gunshot wound to the leg, and the 17-year-old boy was shot in his side. The teens were hospitalized and reported in good condition Sunday, Perez said.
Word of the shooting came on the heels of another recent killing of a child on the city’s South Side. Earlier this month, a 13-year-old playing basketball in park died after a shooting. Police have said they don’t believe the boy was intended target.
Arianna’s mother said funeral arrangements were pending. She remembered her daughter Sunday as a "lovely little person," who loved visits to the candy store.
On Sunday, the glass of Collins’ front window had a jagged hole in it. A sticker was still pasted to the front door, advertising a slogan for the Chicago anti-violence group CeaseFire: "Don’t Shoot. I Want To Grow Up."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.
(AP Photo/Sophia Tareen)