Friends and family gathered Tuesday to remember a 6-month-old Chicago girl who was fatally shot last week while sitting on her father's lap.
As Jonylah Watkins' family wept outside the church, her small coffin was placed among stuffed rows of animals and toys. The 11 a.m. funeral at New Beginnings Church was standing room only and crowds gathered outside waiting to get in.
"Jonylah, affectionately known as 'Smooch,' was loved and adored by many," her funeral program reads. "Jonylah was the apple of her parents' eyes. Jonylah had an infectious smile that continually warmed her mother's heart."
During the service, Jonylah's grandmother, Mary Young, read a poem dedicated to stopping violence. "Killing one another will no longer be tolerated by anyone," Young said.
"Our young is in danger on the streets of this town," she said. "Take back your homes."
New Beginnings Pastor Corey Brooks said Jonylah is the youngest victim of gun violence he's ever buried. "It's the youngest child I've ever had to be shot and killed, murdered," he said. "That is totally different than anything I've ever experienced before and something I never, ever want to experience again."
Jonylah was in the family van with her father, Jonathon Watkins, when someone approached and opened fire in the city's Woodlawn neighborhood, police said. That's contrary to initial reports given right after the shooting occurred.
Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said Monday he wanted to set the record straight about what happened. Last week police said Jonylah was shot five times while her father changed her diaper in the passenger seat.
McCarthy said the little girl actually was on her dad's lap in the driver's seat when the gunman approached from the passenger side. McCarthy also said Jonylah was shot once, not the five times the family originally said.
McCarthy said Jonathon Watkins, who has gang ties and 39 arrests, was clearly the intended target. He is cooperating with police, McCarthy said, but needs to offer more.
"At this point, we think there's a lot more that he can help us with, but he is, in fact, cooperating with the investigation," he said. "We think that there's more that he can tell us."
Still McCarthy said he has no doubt an arrest will be made in the tragic case.
An $11,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of the shooter.