Annette Freeman will never forget where she was on October 13, 1992. That day changed her life and shook Chicago deeply.
“I will never forget that it was Tuesday and they had just gone back to school, it was the first day back,” she said. “He said to me, ‘I don’t want to go to school today’ and I said, ‘You know you don’t miss school!'”
Seconds later, Freeman’s 7-year-old son Dantrell Davis was hit in the head by a sniper bullet as she accompanied him to Jenner School across from their house in the draft. accommodation Cabrini-Green.
“I’m from where I recognize the sounds of gunfire, so I heard it, all I could do was turn around and I said, ‘Duck Danny! “But by then he was already down.”
Freeman said she quickly realized there was nothing she could do to save her son.
“The first bullet is what hit Danny,” she recalls. “It was first – Danny got hit in the cheek. And as fast as it started, it’s as fast as it ended.”
On October 13, 1992, 7-year-old Dantrell Davis was shot dead in the Cabrini Green housing project while his mother Annette Freeman was accompanying him to school. She tells her story from that day, 29 years later.
Chicago reacted with shock. And indignation. In a front-page editorial, the Chicago Sun-Times said, “Dantrell Davis was our child… We let him down.
Hundreds of police roared in Cabrini-Green. A gang member named Anthony Garrett has been arrested for the shooting. Police said he fired a flurry of gunfire from a 10th floor window that morning, targeting members of rival gangs. Dantrell was the only one affected.
Garrett will ultimately be tried and convicted, serving a 100-year sentence. Cabrini’s first floor units have been bricked up and metal detectors have been installed in the halls. Then-Chicago Housing Authority chairman Vincent Lane called on the National Guard to patrol the buildings.
A street was named in honor of Dantrell that year, and a presidential candidate by the name of Bill Clinton mentioned the 7-year-old’s name in a speech.
But 29 years later, children Dantrell’s age and even younger continue to die in Chicago. And her mother asks why so few people remember their names.
“It’s like people are brushing it under the rug now, or making it the new normal,” she said. “And that’s not the case! We can never get used to our babies dying!
In a suburban apartment, a Chicago-area man tries to do what he can. For security reasons, he requested that NBC 5 only refer to him by his first name, Steve. But on his website, gunmemorial.org, he made it his mission to document every fatal shooting in the United States.
“Our goal is to humanize every victim of gun violence, to ensure that every victim’s story is told,” he said. “Currently, we have 87,000 pages for 87,000 victims on the site over the past six years.”
Steve doesn’t make a difference. Some are victims of violent crime. Others, crimes of passion. There are accidental shots. And suicides. The common thread is that all of them died by bullets.
“It’s a lot of stories, a lot of tragedies, a lot of senseless losses,” he says. “Even if you only consider homicides – 40 to 45 per day – it’s shocking, right?”
Steve told NBC 5 that his site receives up to 20,000 visitors per day, many of whom are family members or friends of the victims. He commemorated several members of the same family. And just to keep track of the deaths, he has a stable of volunteers who help update the stories.
“It’s not just Chicago,” he notes. “What’s happening in Chicago is tragic, but it’s all kinds of communities – rural communities, suburbs, all kinds of people, all kinds of situations.”
When asked if he sees any commonalities between the victims, Steve stops and thinks. Yes, he says, mundane arguments that only became fatal because a gun was available.
“If it hadn’t been for the gun, would anyone have had a black eye or a trip to the ER for, I don’t know, stitches?” he said. “But instead, they died.”
Steve says he didn’t create the site to express a political opinion. And on its pages, it takes no position on guns. More than anything, he says, he wants to tell the stories of the victims.
“You judge for yourself if this is a loss that we should be concerned about as a society,” he said.
In Chicago, gun violence continued. While homicides in the city peaked in 1992, the year Dantrell died, 3,567 people have been shot so far this year in Chicago, according to police. Of these, 352 were under the age of 18. There have been 637 murders in total so far this year and 43 of them were minors.
“Please don’t make this the norm,” pleaded Dantrell’s mother. “I have to pray to God to come and help us. But we have to help ourselves first. Please. All I’m saying is don’t make it the norm. Don’t get used to it. ! ”