A 22-year-old woman was shot dead late Tuesday in the Roseland neighborhood on the city’s Far South Side, police said. (Elvia Malagon / Chicago Tribune)
It’s not uncommon to hear gunfire in the Far South Side neighborhood where Brande Freeman lives.
A young girl was killed around the corner while jumping rope a few years ago. Neighbors say it seems someone is shot to death every year on the 10700 block of South Indiana Avenue in Roseland.
Still, Freeman was hit with a gut feeling when she heard shots while watching television late Tuesday. She turned the sound down and called her 22-year-old daughter Brittany Leflore. She didn’t answer.
Rushing outside, she found a crime scene down the street from her home and saw paramedics working on someone in an ambulance. She didn’t know it was her daughter until she got a phone call.
"My daughter’s dead," Freeman cried out repeatedly as she sat in a wheelchair across the street from the emergency entrance of Advocate Christ Medical Center where her daughter had been pronounced dead.
Family members gathered around her, then left one by one, each giving Freeman a goodbye hug until she was finally helped into a car and driven away early Wednesday.
Her daughter had been out with friends and was dropped off at a friend’s home down the street from where she lived around 11:35 p.m., Freeman said. She was knocking on the door of the home when the shooter apparently opened fire, hitting her in the abdomen and the ankle.
There have been feuds between groups in the neighborhood that Freeman described as a "war." She believes her daughter got caught in the crossfire.
"She stayed out of trouble," Freeman said. "You just got to watch the company you keep. She was so smart and pretty and brilliant, she was everything."
Her voice grew louder as she thought of who could have been behind her daughter’s death.
"You need to show your face because you’re a coward," Freeman said about the shooter. "You a coward and you took my daughter’s life, she didn’t deserve that. She didn’t deserve it. Why don’t you shoot who y’all looking for?"
This is the second time the family has been hit by gun violence. Freeman herself was shot seven years ago.
On Jan. 20, 2010, Freeman and her boyfriend were wounded in the 500 block of East 76th Street, about five miles north of where her daughter was shot, according to Freeman and data from the city.
Someone walked up to a vehicle Freeman and her boyfriend were in and opened fire. She said she never learned who the shooter was and she didn’t think police ever made an arrest.
"It’s like they make you want to be immune to it," she said. "You can never be immune to your family members dying or people just dying constantly. It’s like a disease. It’s sickening. I can’t even wrap my head around it: I ain’t never going to see my daughter again. It’s going to drive me crazy."
After Tuesday night’s shooting, police blocked off most of Indiana Avenue between 107th Street and 108th Street. Officers used flashlights to search the porch of a white two-story home near an alley.
One neighbor said he had just gotten home from church when he heard about 20 gunshots. He went outside and prayed for the woman.
"(I) just asked God to touch and heal her body," he said.
Other neighbors gathered at the edge of the crime scene, talking among themselves and watching officers and detectives search the area.
One woman said she was on her porch when she heard the gunfire. "When I ran in the house, they were still shooting," she said. "I hit the floor."
Another woman said it wasn’t the first time the block had experienced gun violence. "Someone always gets killed there every year," she said.
An 8-year-old girl, Tanaja Stokes, was shot in the head on Aug. 10, 2010 while playing jump rope with a 7-year-old cousin, Ariana Jones, on the 10700 block of South Indiana Avenue. Two men on bicycles opened fire toward a group of men, but they ended up wounding the two girls. Ariana survived the shooting.
In May 2014, Brian McKinney, 20, was shot in the shoulder while on the block and pronounced dead at Advocate Christ Medical Center, the same hospital Leflore was taken to.
The next year, on Sept. 10, a 16-year-old boy was wounded on the block. He was shot in the left leg in a drive-by shooting, according to police reports.