Can art help end violence? Guitars Over Guns lets students ‘find their sound’ and choose a better path in life

Homicide Watch

Miah Scott says participating in the Guitars Over Guns program during her final semester at Beethoven Elementary School helped her find the strength to get through some tough times and help her peers in Chicago do the same.

“I know Guitars Over Guns pulled that out of me. It helped me find that little itty bit of strength I needed to get through hard times,” the 14-year-old said.

Guitars Over Guns is a nonprofit, arts-based mentoring program with locations in Miami and Chicago, where it currently operates at four schools.

Students work with mentors during school hours and after school to bring their creativity to life based on their various talents. The program encourages students to “choose your sound” and express yourself through music or any art form. Scott, for example, shared her original poetry with other students.

“If you go into the program and don’t think you can do something, you learn from the teachers and other kids that you can do anything,” she said.

The Guitars Over Guns Organization (GOGO) started as an informal volunteer music mentoring project for youth from underserved neighborhoods in Miami, according to its website. The popularity led to it being formalized and offered in local schools in collaboration with Communities In Schools Miami.


The first official program started at North Miami Middle School in 2008. Over the last nine years, it has expanded to seven schools and several community centers in Miami and Chicago, with the curriculum expanded to includes dance, visual arts and annual summer camps.

In Chicago, there are programs at Evergreen Academy in McKinley Park, Beethoven Elementary in Fuller Park, UCAN Academy in Humboldt Park, and Haven Studio at Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church in Oakland, according to Andrew DeMuro.
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30-year-old Anthony Collins fatally shot in Austin neighborhood

Anthony Collins was fatally shot Sunday afternoon in the West Side Austin neighborhood.

Anthony Collins | Facebook

Anthony Collins | Facebook

The 30-year-old Collins, of Maywood, was shot in the leg at 1:46 p.m. in the 1600 block of North Mango, according to Chicago Police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office said.

He was taken to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, where he was pronounced dead at 2:28 p.m, authorities said.

An autopsy Monday found he died of a gunshot wound to the groin and his death was ruled a homicide, according to the medical examiner’s office.

Police initially reported the shooting was accidental, but further investigation revealed that someone fired shots before fleeing, police said. Area North detectives are conducting a Homicide investigation.

—Chicago Sun-Times Wire

Flor Perez charged as getaway driver in Brighton Park gang murder of Jeyson Gonzalez


An 18-year-old woman who allegedly drove her boyfriend away from the scene of a fatal Brighton Park shooting that claimed the life of a 15-year-old boy has been charged with murder.

Flor Perez | Chicago Police

Flor Perez | Chicago Police

Flor Perez was ordered held in lieu of $75,000 bail Tuesday on a first-degree murder charge tied to the Oct. 26 shooting that left Jeyson Gonzalez dead and injured another teenage boy.

Cook County prosecutors allege that Perez, her boyfriend and another, unidentified man were in a Pontiac mini van in the 4400 block of South Maplewood Avenue when they passed Gonzalez and a 14-year-old friend, Assistant State’s Attorney Jason Coelho said.

The two men with Perez were members of the 2-6 street gang, and “false flagged” the teens, throwing up hand gestures of the rival Satan’s Disciples gang as they passed Gonzalez and the 14-year-old, Coelho said.

When Gonzalez returned the Satan’s Disciple gesture, the two men told Perez to drive the mini van into an alley nearby, then got out, walked toward Gonzalez and opened fire, Coelho said.Read more

Two teenagers, ‘Shorty’ Tyree Wise and Charlie Lawrence, fatally shot in Austin robbery

Two teenagers, Charlie Lawrence and Tyree Wise, were fatally shot, and a 14-year-old girl wounded, in a robbery in the Austin neighborhood Thursday.

Tyree Wise | Facebook

Tyree Wise | Facebook

At 5:45 p.m., someone entered the vestibule of a building and demanded the three teens’ property before opening fire in the 5600 block of West Washington Boulevard, police said.

Lawrence, a 15-year-old from the Roseland neighborhood, was shot in the back, authorities said. Wise, a 16-year-old from Austin, was shot in the head. They both were pronounced dead at the scene less than 15 minutes later.

The girl was shot in the right leg and took herself to West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park, where her condition was stabilized.

Area North detectives were conducting a homicide investigation.

—Chicago Sun-Times Wire

70-year-old Leroy Moore remembered for his powerful laugh, commitment to family and friends, and the catfish

Homicide Watch Chicago

Leroy Moore, a 70-year-old retiree of GE, is remembered by his son and nephew as a “happy-go-lucky” guy who could always be found by listening for his powerful laugh.

Howard Moore | Facebook

Howard Moore | Facebook

“If he was at a big party and you wanted to find him, all you’d have to do is stand there and listen for his laugh,” said Moore’s son, Shurone Moore. “His laugh was always the loudest.”

Leroy Moore was killed while walking back from a store with a friend in the Park Manor neighborhood on July 18. Two cars sped down the 7100 block of South State Street with people inside firing shots at each other, Chicago Police said at the time.

Moore suffered a gunshot wound to the chest and was taken to Stroger Hospital. He was pronounced dead at 8:53 p.m., authorities said.

“It was total shock, you know, and unbelievable pain,” said Moore’s nephew, Howard Moore, assistant basketball coach at the University of Wisconsin. “When my dad told me that my Uncle Leroy was struck by a stray bullet, it was the last thing I was prepared for.”

Moore loved to fish, and was always asking friends and family if he should bring them back catfish, Shurone Moore said.

“That’s the kind of person he was,” he said. “Always looking out for people. He truly will be missed. He was always a good dad, always there for us, always helping me and my friends out in any situation.”Read more

22-year-old Dashon Campbell fatally shot on Dan Ryan

Dashon Campbell was fatally shot while he was driving on the Dan Ryan Thursday evening.

Dashon Campbell | Facebook

Dashon Campbell | Facebook

Two vehicles were seen driving erratically in the northbound lanes of I-90/94 near 51st Street at about 5:15 p.m., State police said.

Gunshots were heard and then the 22-year-old Campbell’s car crashed into a wall along the expressway. The other vehicle continued driving north.

Campbell, who lived in the Fuller Park neighborhood, was taken to Stroger Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 5:53 p.m., authorities said.

Two of his passengers, a 2-year-old girl and 22-year-old woman, were taken in good condition to St. Bernard Hospital for treatment of injuries related to the crash. A third passenger, an 18-year-old woman, declined medical attention at the scene.

—Chicago Sun-Times Wire

WEEK IN REVIEW: Five killed in shootings, including two 29-year-olds in Brighton Park

At least 5 people were killed by violence in Chicago the week of Nov. 6-12, including two 29-years-old shot together in the Brighton Park neighborhood and pronounced dead at the scene.

Sun-Times file photo by Ashlee Rezin

Sun-Times file photo by Ashlee Rezin

The two men Alejandro Arellano and Angel Rosario, were killed early Sunday as they were walking in the 2400 block of West 47th Place at about 1:55 a.m. An eastbound gray Toyota Corolla pulled up and a male shooter got out and opened fire, police said.

The shooter then got back inside the vehicle, which drove off heading toward Western. One man was shot in the chest and the other was shot in the head and neck, police said.  The shooting was believed to be gang-related, police said.

Other homicides last week included:

  • A downstate man was found shot to death inside a home Wednesday afternoon in the West Side Austin neighborhood. Ramon X. Williams, 37, was found with a gunshot wound to the chest in the 900 block of North LeClaire at 1:17 p.m., according to police and the medical examiner’s office. Williams, a Kankakee resident, was pronounced dead at the scene at 1:33 p.m., authorities said. An autopsy found he died of multiple gunshot wounds, and his death was ruled a homicide.

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25-year-old Trevonte Howard shot to death in Austin neighborhood

Trevonte T. Howard was fatally shot and two other men wounded in an attack Tuesday night in the Austin neighborhood on the West Side.

The three men were shot by someone firing from a light-colored vehicle shortly after 4 p.m. in the 500 block of South Lockwood, Chicago Police said.

Howard, 25, was was shot multiple times in the head and pronounced dead at the scene at 4:41 p.m., according to police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office. He lived in the same neighborhood as the shooting, about a mile from where he was killed.

A 32-year-old man was shot in the groin and buttocks, and a 28-year-old man suffered a graze wound to the head. Both of their conditions were stabilized at Stroger Hospital.

Area North detectives were investigating.

—Chicago Sun-Times Wire

Miguel ‘Silky’ Ford, fatally shot in Englewood, ‘always put others before himself’

Miguel “Silky” Ford was shot to death Wednesday afternoon in the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side.

Miguel Ford | Facebook

Miguel Ford | Facebook

Ford, whose “whole life was football,” had played for Romeoville High School and had a full-ride scholarship to play for Robert Morris University, where he was a running back, his friend Hayley Malone said.

The 21-year-old Ford was sitting in his vehicle about 2:15 p.m. in the 6600 block of South Paulina when another male walked up and pulled out a gun, police said.

Ford tried to drive away as the shooter fired and he was struck in the back. His vehicle then crashed into a tree and overturned.

He was taken to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he was pronounced dead at 2:44 p.m., police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office said. Ford’s residence was listed as southwest suburban Romeoville.

A 17-year-old boy who was also in the vehicle at the time was taken to Christ Medical Center with minor injuries related to the crash, police said.

He didn’t deserve to go so soon,” one of Ford’s close friends said. “He always put others before himself and took care of his loved ones.”Read more

25-year-old Exavian Davis dies two days after shooting in East Garfield Park neighborhood

Two days after he was shot in the head, Exavian C. Davis died from wounds inflicted during a drug deal in the East Garfield Park neighborhood, authorities said.

The shooting happened Saturday at about 2:45 p.m., when the 25-year-old Davis “was involved in a narcotics related transaction” and someone he knew pulled out a gun and shot him in the head in the 3900 block of West Van Buren, according to Chicago Police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

He was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 7:39 a.m. Monday, authorities said. He lived about two blocks from where he was shot.

—Chicago Sun-Times Wire