Right before the gunfire took down 5-year-old Jaden Donald the boy who thought he was Spiderman cavorted in West Pullman’s Cooper Park early Friday on the way home with his family from July 4 festivities.
One minute Jaden was “running around, playing, happy, watching the fireworks,” his mother said. But soon after the shots rang out at about 12:30 a.m. Friday, he was listed in critical condition at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.
The family had only been at the park for about 20 minutes, Jasmine Donald said Sunday. “It didn’t take but a second, being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” she said.
Jaden was on a respirator Sunday and his injuries included damage to his pancreas, kidney and spleen, among other injuries, said the Rev. Dan Willis of Lighthouse Church of All Nations in Alsip, where Jaden attends Sunday school.
His mother was optimistic about his prospects, saying he was stable and “doing good.”
Meanwhile, the 24-year-old accused of shooting Jaden and two others was denied bail Sunday.
Darrell E. Chambers faces charges of attempted murder and aggravated battery with a firearm and three counts of attempted first-degree murder in connection to the shooting.
The blasts also left one man with a gunshot wound to the leg and another with wounds in the wrist and leg, Assistant State’s Attorney Jennifer Dillman said.
Those victims are not related to Jaden, Willis said.
The prosecutor described Chambers as a member of a street gang that has been warring with another faction of the gang that claims Cooper Park as its stomping grounds.
Just past midnight Friday, Chambers allegedly walked down West 117th Street bordering Cooper Park and fired, said Dillman, who added that Chambers was identified as the gunman by three witnesses.
Chambers has a prior weapons-related conviction and can be seen in a 2010 news report on YouTube “espousing the virtues” of gang life, Dillman said.
Sadness and anger were the main sentiments expressed by a crowd of congregants from the church who came to pray outside the hospital Sunday afternoon.
“We’re outraged about it,” said Velencia Myton. “It could be my child, my nephew, anybody I know. It could be one of us.”
Myton said the city needs stricter gun control laws. “The people who make the laws, it’s not affecting them personally,” the Alsip resident said.
Under a sweltering sun, Willis called for prayers to help Jaden and his family and said communities dealing with violence like Chicago’s must share the burden.
“Your child is my child; my child is your child,” the pastor said. “We believe as long as there is breath, there is hope.”
Willis called on the congregants to pray in their own words for the boy and his family.
“This baby needs a miracle,” Willis said.
Derrick Terrell attends the church and came out to show his support.
“The crazy streets of Chicago,” the 45-year-old Chicagoan said, shaking his head. “I’m getting tired of talking about it.”
Willis said the church had dealt with adult members being shot on the streets, but not a little boy.
“You walk up and see a child lying there and see a place in his stomach that’s been torn open by a bullet,” he said. “There is nothing this child had done to bring it on himself.”
Willis said churches can’t cure all of society’s ills, but that “each of us are responsible for our corner of life.”
“This is not an Englewood problem, this is not a South Side problem,” Willis said. “These are Chicago’s kids. And we are responsible.”
Tribune reporter Peter Nickeas contributed.