By STEFANO ESPOSITO and ASHLEE REZIN
17-year-old Vonzell Banks was gunned down Friday near a park named after slain King College Prep student Hadiya Pendleton—one of four killings in the city as the Fourth of July weekend got off to a violent start.
Banks, of the 4500 block of South Prairie, and a 19-year-old man were standing outside Hadiya Pendleton Park in the 4300 block of South King about 4:45 p.m., when a vehicle approached and someone inside opened fire, police said.
Banks, a Dunbar Vocational High School junior, was playing basketball with his older brother, Vinny, and some friends when he was shot, his aunt, LaShanda Childs, said.
“He was a loving child, getting ready to be a senior at high school,” Childs said. “He was going to start a summer job on Monday. He was very excited about it.”
Childs described Banks as a “church boy,” who loved playing the drums and attended Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer.
Like Pendleton—in whose honor the park was renamed just two months ago—Banks was shot in the back. He was taken to Stroger Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 5:31 p.m., according to police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
The older teen was shot in the right foot and was taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where his condition was stabilized.
Pendleton—a promising sophomore at King College who became a symbol of Chicago’s gun violence problem when she was killed just a week after performing at events for President Barack Obama’s second inauguration—was shot Jan. 29, 2013, while hanging out with friends at another park.
Nathaniel Pendleton, Hadiya’s father, on Friday said that he’d heard about the shooting near his daughter’s park. He said it makes him think the city isn’t doing enough to stop violence.
“The thing is, it just seems the more we try to do good, it’s turning around on us,” Pendleton said.
Pendleton said he would try to reach out to the 17-year-old’s family in the coming days, to offer support.
“They are probably trying to grasp the reality that their loved one is gone right now,” Pendleton said. “They probably wouldn’t even know who I was right now.”
Police said the victims were likely not the intended targets of the shooting.