Two Chicago women who helped spearhead a group of moms united against gun violence in their neighborhood were fatally shot in a drive-by shooting last Friday night while standing watch on a corner they were determined to make safe.
A shooter in a blue SUV opened fire at about 10 p.m. at 75th Street and South Stewart Avenue in the south side Englewood neighborhood, striking both Chantell Grant, 26, and Andrea Stoudemire, 35, multiple times in the chest, police said.
Both were taken to University of Chicago Medical Center where they were pronounced dead.
“They weren’t in gangs, associating with the wrong people, in the wrong place at the wrong time, or any of the other things they tell us so we blame the victims instead of the shooters, who no one seems to be able to catch,” Tamar Manasseh, founder of their group — Mothers Against Senseless Killings, or MASK — wrote in a GoFundMe appeal to help raise reward money.
“They were just women, just like me, like you, and we have become the target of whomever these shooters are,” she wrote. “Let me be clear: Making even one of us a target makes all of us, everywhere, targets.”
A 30-year-old man also shot during the drive-by was stabilized with a wound to his arm, according to police, reports the Chicago Tribune.
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Grant was a mother of four whose youngest had just turned 1 year old, Manasseh said at a Sunday news conference near the spot of the shooting, reports the Tribune.
“Every day Chantell brought her kids here. Every day,” Manasseh said. “By now, I should have seen Chantell at least three or four times at this point of the day. I will never see her again. I will never see Andrea again.”
Stoudemire also had four children, she said.
“It is terrifying. It is heartbreaking. I haven’t slept because I am trying to figure out how we can stop this,” Manasseh told the Chicago Sun-Times. “Who’s next? I just keep thinking, ‘Who’s next?’”
MASK formed in 2015 after the shooting death of a woman near where Grand and Stoudemire were fatally shot years later. In that location, the mothers organized to stand watch over their children playing and held cookouts over the summer, believing their presence would serve as a barrier against the gun violence that plagued their neighborhood.
“At this point, I don’t know if I’m more afraid for my life or what we are giving the children, our block and the entire community over to if our fear convinces us to leave our corner, abandon our mission, our school, and our people,” Manasseh wrote. “Therefore, we aren’t going anywhere.”
“The murder of a woman brought us to that corner, so there’s no way we’re going to let the murder of another drive us away,” she added.
No one was under arrest as of Monday, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the Sun-Times.
“This is still very much under investigation, but at this time, we have no evidence that we can point to that suggests the women were the intended targets. We also have no evidence to the contrary,” he wrote in an email to the newspaper.
A longtime friend of Stoudemire’s, Charvonda Andrews, told the outlet, “She was very outgoing. Very spontaneous. Loved to smile. She loved taking care of her kids. That’s the main thing. Her kids were her world.”
At the news conference, Manasseh, 41, said, “For mothers to be killed in a place where mothers go to seek safety and sisterhood, I take that as a personal threat. Because when you come for one of us, you better believe they came for all of us.”