Antonio Fenner was one year older than Hadiya Pendleton, and was shot dead three days before she was.
And while Hadiya’s death gained national attention, symbolizing the epidemic of violence that has swept Chicago, the aftermath of Antonio’s killing may be more typical.
President Obama spoke of Hadiya in the State of the Union Address, and Michelle Obama attended her funeral, along with an array of public officials. A $40,000 reward was established for information about her killing, police set up a hotline for tips, and an intensive investigation yielded the arrest of two men suspected of involvement with shooting Hadiya within two weeks.
After Antonio was shot in what reports suggest was a random act, friends and community members decorated the site of the shooting, and his funeral was standing room only, according to a February 13 WBEZ report, part of an ongoing effort by Columbia College journalism students to track the homicides of young people.
But no public officials have spoken out about the killing, and with little media attention, police hadn’t even contacted Fenner’s family since his death.
A police spokesman told WBEZ that there are hundreds of murder investigations underway in Chicago, and investigating officers may not have felt it was necessary to speak with the family. Police had no idea of a motive in the shooting and no leads.
Fenner’s stepfather, wonders whether police are even trying to catch Antonio’s killer.
He describes the attitude of police toward young people in Garfield Park: “They’re just going to kill each other, and our job is just to come by and clean up.”
In a related report, Austin Talks explores the impact of violence. They talk with Tali Raviv, a psychologist at Lurie Children’s Hospital who trains teachers, counselors, and community members to identify and help children traumatized by violence.
Without such help, children exposed to violence are prone to becoming violent themselves, she says.
Noting the high rate of young people in the juvenile justice system who have trauma histories, she says we are “creating this multi-generational violence loop.”
Austin Talks also speaks with David Elam of Fathers Who Care, a group that holds monthly meetings where teens can explore issues and connect with mentors.
“The angle on Hadiya Pendleton is really because she embodied so much of the promise of youth, but all of these youths should be viewed that way,” says Raviv.