Police charged two brothers who have deep ties to a gang with the shooting death of the cousin of Chicago Bulls star Dwyane Wade, officials said Sunday.
Nykea Aldridge, 32, a mother of four, was pushing a baby stroller Friday afternoon on Chicago’s South Side when she was shot. Police said she was not the intended target of the shooting. Aldridge’s child was not struck by the gunfire.
Police said the two men charged with murder — Darwin Sorells, 26, and Derren Sorells, 22 — were both on parole and affiliated with the Gangster Disciples gang. They appeared in court Sunday and were ordered held without bail.
Derren Sorells was just released from prison two weeks before Friday’s shooting. He was convicted in 2012 for a motor vehicle theft and escape from custody, but was released early. He had six felony arrests in his background. His brother Darwin Sorells was also on parole for a felony gun charge. He was sentenced to six years in prison in January 2013 and was released from prison earlier this year.
Police said the suspects were targeting a for-hire driver after exchanging unfriendly glances with the man as he drove in the neighborhood. The two later confronted the driver after he walked two women into their building, according to prosecutors. The driver told police the men menaced him and indicated they had guns. They then chased the driver as he ran away, with at least one of the men firing multiple shots that struck Aldridge.
The elder brother told detectives that the younger brother fired the shots, and Derren Sorrells also implicated himself in a statement he gave to police, prosecutors said.
Alrdidge had just left a nearby school, where she had registered one of her children for the upcoming school year.
“This reprehensible act of violence is the example of why we need to change the way we treat habitual offenders in the city of Chicago,” police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said. “When will enough be enough? This tragedy isn’t just noteworthy because Ms. Aldridge has a famous family member. It’s noteworthy because these two offenders are the prime examples of … repeat gun offenders who don’t care who they shoot.”
Chicago has seen its murder toll skyrocket this year. The nation’s third-largest city has recorded more homicides than New York and Los Angeles combined in 2016. Homicides were up nearly 50% for the first half of 2016 compared to the same period last year. Police have also already recovered 6,000 illegally possessed guns off the streets of Chicago this year.
Chicago Police say the vast majority of victims and assailants are on its Strategic Subject List, a predictive roster that the department generates by crunching arrest information, gang affiliation, shooting patterns and other data. The list includes about 1,400 individuals.
Johnson did not know if the suspects in Aldridge’s killing were on the list at the time of the shooting.
Police said they were able to quickly identify and detain Aldridge’s suspected killers, because witnesses identified the men as the gunmen. Both men fired their weapons, which authorities have not recovered, but it’s unclear if both struck Aldridge.
“The frustrating part is … we have 1,400 individuals that drive this gun violence in this city,” Johnson said. “This isn’t a mystery.”
Dozens of people gathered at a Chicago church Sunday for a prayer service to remember Aldridge, The Associated Press reported. Her parents, sister, nieces and nephews wept as they spoke about the woman they said was a gifted writer and “fighter of the family.”
Wade, who grew up around Chicago, has been outspoken over the years about the violence in his hometown.
The Bulls guard and his mother, pastor Jolina Wade, took part Thursday in a forum on gun violence hosted by ESPN.
“My cousin was killed today in Chicago. Another act of senseless gun violence. 4 kids lost their mom for NO REASON. Unreal. #EnoughIsEnough,” Wade tweeted Friday.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump weighed in Saturday, claiming the killing of Wade’s cousin is a reason why African-American voters will back his candidacy.
“Dwayne Wade’s cousin was just shot and killed walking her baby in Chicago,” Trump tweeted Saturday morning, misspelling the basketball player’s first name. “Just what I have been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!”
Trump, who faced scorn on social media over his tweet, later posted a second message offering condolences to Aldridge’s family.
“As far as what Mr. Trump said … ‘If you have a magic bullet to stop the violence anywhere, not just in Chicago but in America, then please share it with us,” Johnson said. “We’d be glad to take that information and stop this violence.”