Kentavia Blackful was sitting in the living room in her family home outside Chicago on Monday evening, excitedly planning her 12th birthday party. The sixth grader was choosing T-shirt designs for her friends while the rest of her family watched the Chicago Bears game on TV.
Suddenly, a stray bullet shattered the living room window and hit Kentavia in the head. Her panicked family called 911, and the sixth-grader was rushed to Advocate Christ Medical Center in critical condition. The following day — her 12th birthday — Kentavia died.
Kentavia’s shocking and senseless death has shaken the Chicago suburb of Harvey. On Wednesday evening, dozens of neighbors released balloons in her honor, according to WGN. They were balloons that had been purchased for her birthday party.
Police in Harvey are searching for answers in the shooting, which appeared to be random. They have no suspects as of Thursday afternoon.
“As a police department, we are committed to giving our full attention to this crime against our young resident,” Harvey Police Chief Eddie Winters said in a news release Tuesday. “We are asking for the support of our residents.”
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Mayor Christopher J. Clark issued a statement, sending condolences to Kentavia’s family and asking for help in finding the shooter. “Our hearts are heavy at the news of this latest act of violence against innocent residents of the City of Harvey,” Clark said in a statement.
By all accounts, Kentavia was a standout student at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School. She was the president of her sixth-grade class. An honor student, she was on the school’s math team. She even tutored other students.
Her family is reeling from their loss. “This is a baby we’re talking about,” her grandfather, Kenneth Donner, told WGN on Wednesday, the day after she died. “She hadn’t even really experienced life yet. The position she was in, life was fun.”
A reward is being offered for information about the shooting. Anyone with information is asked to call Harvey police or the anonymous tip line, U TELL US, at 1-800-883-5587.