Laveta Richardson never wanted to end up like those grief-stricken mothers on television who express sorrow and anger toward the loss of their children to Chicago’s gun violence.
But on Thursday, relatives consoled the mother of three through her sobs and tears as she talked about her youngest son, Venzel, 14, who was fatally shot the night before in the crime-plagued West Woodlawn neighborhood.
“My baby is gone because people just don’t have no remorse and no feeling,” said Richardson, crying hysterically as she held up a photo of her slain son. “My home will never be the same again! My house will never be the same again!”
Chicago police said the freshman at Dunbar High School was walking with two other teens in the 6100 block of South Vernon Avenue about 8:20 p.m. Wednesday when a white van pulled up and a gunman inside opened fire. Richardson, who was walking home from a convenience store, was shot in the head and died on the scene.
Police said recent conflicts between the Gangster Disciples and Black Disciples street gangs have contributed to recent violence in West Woodlawn, long considered one of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods.
Richardson’s family became outraged on learning from news reports that police labeled Venzel as gang-affiliated.
“Where did you get that information from?” his aunt, Denise Richardson, angrily asked in a reference to police. “You can say he was in a gang, but you can’t knock on a door to give your condolence to my sister?”
She said police never notified the family about Venzel’s death. One of his cousins who lives near the shooting scene learned about the crime scene on Facebook and went to check it out. It was there that the cousin learned Venzel had been killed, his family said.
Laveta Richardson described her son as a typical teenager who loved football and Xbox video games and belonged to Dunbar’s ROTC program.
His death comes one month after a friend from Emmett Till Elementary School, Marquise Harris, 16, was fatally shot and in West Woodlawn.
“I just went went to his friend’s funeral,” Laveta’s mother said. “Now I’m going to my son’s funeral.”
In a separate shooting Wednesday, about 6:50 p.m., a 36-year-old man was shot in the 4600 block of South California Avenue, police said.
The man was shot in the shoulder and was able to take himself to Mount Sinai Hospital where his condition had stabilized, police said. The man originally told police he was shot in the 1500 block of South Fairfield Avenue in the Douglas Park neighborhood.
Area Central detectives were investigating both shootings, police said.
Tribune photographer Nancy Stone contributed.
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