Funeral today for 6-month-old murder victim

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City-_USE_Jonylah_shrine.jpgA shrine in memory of 6-month-old Jonylah Watkins sits near the spot in the 6500 block of South Maryland Avenue in Chicago where she was shot March 11, 2013 sitting in on her father’s lap in a van. Defender/Worsom Robinson

Jonylah Watkins will be laid to rest today – one of the youngest and latest victims of Chicago gun violence. The 6-month-old was shot Monday, March 11, 2013 in the van where her father, Jonathan, had her sitting on his lap.

Mourners are preparing to fill Rev. Corey Brooks’ New Beginnings church, at 67th Street and King Drive, for the baby’s wake and funeral. The visitation was held yesterday at Leak and Sons Funeral Home.

There had been talk that Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose offered to pay for the funeral services. Spencer Leak Jr., an owner of the family-run funeral home, told the Defender that someone from Rose’s camp did contact Leak and Sons and inquired about “what (Rose) could do to help.”

Leak Jr. said his parents, Spencer Sr. and Henrietta Leak, had already decided to take care of Watkins’ funeral arrangements, and the cemetery donated her burial plot.

“So there was nothing that Rose needed to contribute,” said Leak Jr. “We are (pleased) with the offer of support from Rose and the community.”

It was reported that Jonylah Watkins was shot multiple times in the parked van with her father in the 6500 block of South Maryland Monday afternoon. But police Supt. Garry McCarthy said Monday that she was shot only once. The baby was taken to Comer Children’s Hospital at University of Chicago where she underwent surgery. She died early the next morning.

“There was just too much bleeding,” said Brooks, who has served as a spokesman for the parents.

Jonathan Watkins, 28, was also shot multiple times, including in the buttocks, and was released from Northwestern Hospital days later.

A day after the shootings, McCarthy held a press conference where he revealed that Jonathan was the intended target and that the father had gang ties. Early reports following the shooting indicated that the baby’s mother, Judy, had been shot when she was pregnant with Jonylah. Relatives denied the father was involved with gangs, and at another press conference one week after the shooting, the police chief said Judy Watkins had not been shot.

As family and friends prepare for the baby’s funeral Tuesday, police have not made any arrests in the case. McCarthy said that police were reviewing footage from a nearby camera. He announced that the video revealed a van speeding away from the scene down an alley that could be the getaway vehicle. Investigators are also looking into the existence of a Facebook message that threatened Watkins and could be involved in the incident.

McCarthy said the father is assisting police.

“We think there is a lot more that he could help us with but he is cooperating with the investigation,” said McCarthy. “We are going to close this case, there’s no doubt in my mind.”

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