Two Chicago mothers who worked to tackle crime and violence in their neighborhood were killed in a drive-by shooting last week volunteering at street corner they were trying to reclaim from gangs
Chantel Grant, 26, and Andrea Stoudemire, 36, both volunteered with Mothers/Men Against Senseless Killings, [MASK], were shot Friday night in Chicago’s Auburn Gresham neighborhood.
The MASK volunteers were standing at a spot where kids play when a blue SUV pulled up and someone inside the vehicle sprayed the play group with gunfire
The women were fatally shot, two men were also injured in the shooting but survived
Cops said one of the injured men is known to them and had just been released from prison
Both women helped build a safe area for the kids in Auburn Gresham, and each had four young children
Chicago PD said they have no evidence to suggest the women were targeted
Grant and Stoudemire, who were members of MASK, were shot several times and pronounced dead at the hospital, police said.
A 58-year-old man also sustained minor injuries after he fell to the ground, and a man, 30, walked to the hospital later with a gunshot wound to his arm.
He is currently said to be in a stable condition, according to a police statement.
Officials said they have no reason to believe the women were intentionally targeted. But they added that one of the injured men was recently released from prison and is known to CPD.
‘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, said CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.
‘One of the males in the group who was non-fatally injured has a history with CPD and was recently released from prison.’
He said they are seeking more information to to determine the cause of the tragic shooting.
Members of the group had wanted to reclaim the corner around four years ago and ensure the safety of women and kids in the neighborhood after another murder there.
They patrolled the area every day for the entire summer and had barbecues in the evening.
The group hoped by being a permanent fixture at the corner that they would help end violence in the area, according to ABC7. ‘It is sacred ground, as far as we’re concerned,’ Maria Pike, MASK member told ABC7. ‘This was a haven that was built by moms.’ ‘It is personal because any kind of violence regardless of whether you are the affected, or you are the offender, is wrong,’ Pike added. MASK founder Tamar Manasseh called the double murder ‘one of the saddest nights of my life.’
‘For mothers to be killed in a place where mothers go to seek safety and sisterhood, I take that as a personal threat,’ Manasseh, 41, said at a Sunday news conference which was posted on the group’s Facebook page, adding ‘Because when you come for one of us, you better believe they came for all of us. ‘If any of us we’re sitting out here, that could’ve been any one of us over there. They could’ve gotten any of us in a place we’re kids come to play.’
Manasseh explained that she held the news conference next to the location where Grant and Stoudemire were killed in a bid to reclaim the corner from violence. Over 50 people gathered as their their children played on the grass before Manasseh and other MASK activists began speaking. Manasseh added: ‘We are all sisters and right now we’re here to do one thing, watch the kids. ‘We’re here to make sure the kids have something better than what any of us had. She described how Grant, who was a dedicated mother, brought her children to the space everyday to play and would ‘never let them out of her sight.’
Manasseh said: ‘Every day Chantell brought her kids here. Every day. 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.’ She claimed Chantel Grant, 26, and Andrea Stoudemire, 36, were the second and third women to be shot in a month. She said she knows that their last thoughts would’ve been for their children and what would happen to them. Grant had four children and her fourth child just turned 1, Manasseh said. Stoudemire also had four children and she described the 35-year-old as being very protective of her friends and was a mother who ‘mothered other mothers.’ She said of Stoudemire: ‘Andrea was a mother’s mother, she mothered other mothers like we all do sometimes. She was a sister to other sisters, we mother each other’s kids, we’re sisters to each other. That was taken from us.’
As the news conference progressed, one friend of Stoudemire’s paced around chanting, ‘Rest in peace, Andrea.’ ‘This is unacceptable, you can’t kill mothers, you cant do that. Who’s going to raise the kids if you’re killing all the women?. ‘Enough is enough, I’m tired of being scared, aren’t you tired of 14-year-old with guns.’ ‘We aren’t going anywhere, we are still open for business, we are building our school, we are living our lives,’ she added.
MASK was established in 2015 as a volunteer community outreach program aimed at combating violence and crime, and teaching children to grow up as friends rather than enemies.
A group of individuals in the community began to simply hang out on the block, cook food, and emanate love, according to its website.
A GoFundMe account, set up as a reward for information leading to the capture of suspects in Stoudemire’s and Grant’s deaths, has raised nearly $14,000 of a $5,000 goal as of Wednesday.
‘The murder of a woman brought us to our corner on 75th & Stewart so there’s no way we’re going to let the murder of more moms drive us away,’ the petition states.
‘We deserve to live without fear and the young women, Chantell Grant and Andrea Stoudemire, who were torn from their children families tonight, deserve justice.’