Updated: May 28, 6:41 a.m. CST: A 33-year-old man was charged Monday in the Chicago shooting of 6-month-old Jonylah Watkins, police said, according to NBC Chicago.
Koman Willis, of the 7800 block of South Saint Lawrence Avenue, was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm after he allegedly shot Jonylah and her father on March 11, according to police. Police said Willis turned himself in with his attorney present around 4 p.m. Saturday and was charged at 2:45 a.m. Monday.
According to police, Willis, who is a documented gang member and has been arrested 38 times prior to the shooting, was aiming at the infant’s father, Jonathan Watkins, and shot him over a stolen video game system. It is not clear why Willis suspected Jonathan Watkins in the burglary, but Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said it is not likely that Watkins will be charged in the theft due to “too many variables.”
McCarthy called the investigation a “milestone” and said he believes pressure from police led Willis to turn himself him in.
Police are questioning a suspect in connection to the March slaying of 6-month-old Jonylah Watkins, police sources told NBC Chicago Sunday.Jonylah Watkins died March 12 after she sustained gunshots a day earlier to the thigh, shoulder, lung, liver and bowels on the 6500 block of South Maryland Avenue in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood. Watkins, who’s death made national headlines, was believed to be killed during an act of gang violence, police said.
Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said incident has “very strong gang overtones” and the father, who has an extensive criminal history, was the intended target. The community offered an $11,000 reward for the capture of Jonylah’s shooter.
Friends and family gathered a week after Watkins’ death to remember the 6-month-old Chicago girl, who was fatally shot while sitting on her father’s lap. “Jonylah, affectionately known as ‘Smooch,’ was loved and adored by many,” her funeral program reads. “Jonylah was the apple of her parents’ eyes. Jonylah had an infectious smile that continually warmed her mother’s heart.”
New Beginnings Pastor Corey Brooks said Jonylah is the youngest victim of gun violence he’s ever buried. “It’s the youngest child I’ve ever had to be shot and killed, murdered,” he said. “That is totally different than anything I’ve ever experienced before and something I never, ever want to experience again.”
Jonylah was in the family van with her father, Jonathon Watkins, when someone approached and opened fire in the city’s Woodlawn neighborhood, police said.
At a press conference Sunday, Brooks, on behalf of the family, thanked Chicago Police for their efforts, but would not publicly confirm details on the suspect’s questioning.
“Jonathan and Judy have been patient in letting the police do their job and they have been doing a great job. They have been talking to Jonathan almost every single day,” Brooks said. “They are always in contact with him.”
Brooks said family and friends hope justice is served soon.
“We think that every day it’s going to happen,” he said. “Every single were hopefule. We are hoping it will be in the next 24 hours.”
No charges had been filed as of Sunday evening.