BY MICHAEL LANSU
Homicide Watch Chicago
Ahbir Sardin was ordered held on $1 million bond Monday for allegedly killing 14-year-old Mikva Challenge participant Venzel Richardson during a February shooting in the Woodlawn community that police called gang related.
On Feb. 12, Richardson was walking south in the 6100 block of South Vernon Avenue with a group of people who had all gone to a nearby convenience store, Assistant State Attorney Robert Mack said.
A white minivan then stopped on Vernon Avenue and Sardin, 17, opened the driver’s side door and fired multiple shots at Richardson about 8:20 p.m., authorities said.
Richardson was struck four times, including one bullet that entered the back of his neck and exited through his forehead, Mack said.
Richardson, of the 6400 block of South St. Lawrence Avenue, was dead on the scene, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
Venzel was part of the Mikva Challenge, said Executive Director Brian Brady. The Mikva Challenge is a program that encourages high school students “to be active participants in the political process through elections, community problem solving and policy-making programs,” according to the Mikva website.
Jelani McEwen-Torrence, Venzel’s Mikva Challenge mentor for two years, said he was overwhelmed with grief when he received word of Venzel’s death. Venzel would walk his nephews home every day after school before returning to take part in the program, McEwen-Torrence said.
“These children live in extreme environments,” McEwen-Torrence said. “You can’t categorize them by who they may be affiliated with. I want him to be remembered in a holistic way. He was a caring and courteous person.”
McEwen-Torrence shared the following video Venzel and friends recorded through the program two years ago:
Police learned Sardin may have been involved in the shooting and witnesses identified him in a photo array, Mack said. Sardin was arrested Saturday and charged with one count of first-degree murder.
Detectives believe the shooting may be gang related, police said.
On Monday, Sardin appeared for a bond hearing dressed in a navy blue Juvenile Temporary Detention Center sweatshirt and gray pants. Judge Maria Kuriakos-Ciesil ordered him held on $1 million bond and issued a next court date of May 19.
A public defender said Sardin is a senior at Dyett High School and lives at home with his mother and three younger siblings.
Sardin has no prior felony convictions.
— Contributing: Will Hager