With her killer still at large, 6-month-old Jonylah Watkins will be laid to rest Tuesday at a South Side Chicago church in the same neighborhood where she and her father were attacked in a spray of bullets on March 11.
Rev. Corey Brooks, who is acting as the Watkins' family spokesman, told the Associated Press and other outlets the wake is planned for 10 a.m. Tuesday, followed by the baby's funeral at 11 a.m. at his New Beginnings Church in Woodlawn.
The burial arrangements for the 6-month-old have been predictably grim.
Wednesday night, Watkins' mother Judy, 19, had to endure what the Chicago Sun-Times called the "painful but necessary formality" of identifying her daughter's "bullet-torn" body at the Cook County medical examiner’s office via closed-circuit TV.
Spencer Leak, funeral director at Leak and Sons, told DNAinfo Chicago Jonylah's situation is "the worst case he's seen in his 20 years in the business." Leak had to reportedly special-order a three-foot casket for the baby, whose body will also require special preparation for the open casket viewing due to her gunshot injuries.
"It's just heartbreaking. I have a grandchild a little older, so it really broke my heart," Leak told DNAinfo. "I feel for the family — these are just little tiny innocents."
As the family prepares for the baby's burial, her father Jonathan Watkins, 29, is still recovering at Northwestern Memorial where the Sun-Times reports Watkins is cooperating with police. According to CBS News, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said the baby's father was "obviously targeted," and police were trying to determine whether a reported Facebook post threatening Watkins actually exists.
Police have said the father has known gang ties and a long rap sheet, but Brooks defended Watkins saying he has avoided trouble since a 2007 arrest, and became a good partner and father to his wife and only child.
Brooks said if Watkins knew who shot him and his daughter, "they would be arrested by now," the AP reports.
Mothers of slain children shared their stories, including the mother of Derrion Albert, the Chicago teen whose 2009 beating death grabbed national headlines. Janette Albert lamented children on Chicago's streets couldn't live to see adulthood -- or, in this case, their first birthday.
Other community members have stepped in as well. Leak is donating his funeral services to the family, according to the Sun-Times. The funeral director says he couldn't, however, confirm reports that Bulls star Derrick Rose was covering part of the burial cost. CBS Chicago reported Rose's offer came to the funeral home via his agent, though the rep declined to discuss the matter.
No one is in custody in the shooting as of Thursday morning and police are investigating. Anyone with any information or tips has been urged to call 1-800-883-5785, a number community activists have provided.
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