It was movie night in Demarco Kennedy’s Far South Side apartment. The 32-year-old railroad worker’s wife and three children waited for him in the living room, with plans to watch the animated film “Rio 2.” He sat at his dining room table, paying bills. Then, gunshots.
Kennedy’s kids, coached in the past by their wary parents, dropped to the floor.
As the children attempted to crawl into a hallway, Kennedy’s wife saw him fall over. The left side of his face was streaked with blood from a bullet wound.
“He was grabbing my hand real hard. He was trying to say something and he couldn’t,” Nicole Cooper said Tuesday, recounting the August evening when her husband was slain. “And when he released my hand, that’s when he passed.”
With that random bullet through the family’s window, Kennedy became another homicide victim in Chicago, one of more than 750 in 2016.
A persistent reality for some of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods, violence unnerved far reaches of the city in 2016 as shootings and homicides soared. Not since the drug-fueled bloodshed of the mid-1990s had the city witnessed such a toll.
Some neighborhoods, already scarred and gutted by years of violence, suffered inordinately. But the danger spread into more neighborhoods, too, and randomness became an all-too-familiar element to many shootings.
Grim milestones added up: The deadliest month in 23 years. The deadliest day in 13 years. 4,300 people shot. As the year wound down, with the promise of a new year coming soon, a violent Christmas Day.