We Need to Talk About the Fatal Shooting of Dwyane Wade's Cousin, a Mom of 4

Nykea Aldridge, Dwyane Wade's Cousin
Yet another case of senseless gun violence is making headlines, this time because it involved the relative of a prominent athlete (and because of its particularly tragic details): NBA star Dwyane Wade's cousin, mother-of-four Nykea Aldridge, was fatally shot on Friday in Chicago -- while police say she was on her way to register her kids for school. Aldridge, who was reportedly not the intended victim, was pushing her 3-week-old infant in a stroller at the time. 

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Brothers Darwin Sorrells Jr., 26, and Derren Sorrells, 22, have been charged with first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder for the crime. At a news conference on Sunday, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson said that both men are gang members who were on parole for gun convictions. Apparently the brothers were aiming for the driver of a car when they struck Aldridge, hitting her in the head and arm (miraculously, the baby was unharmed). Aldridge died 45 minutes later at the hospital. 

Wade, who has spoken out about gun violence in the past, expressed his sorrow and frustration on Twitter, saying, "Another act of senseless gun violence. 4 kids lost their mom for NO REASON. Unreal. #EnoughIsEnough."

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No reason at all. What a horrible, horrible waste of a life. But one has to wonder: If Aldridge weren't Wade's cousin, would we even be talking about this terrible crime? After all, according to the Chicago Tribune, at least 455 people have been shot to death in Chicago so far this year. Since Saturday afternoon, four people have been killed and 24 injured in Chicago shootings, police said at the conference on Sunday. How many of their names do we know? How many of their faces would we recognize? Aldridge, at least, has a face we can all see -- and mourn:

As Johnson said:

This tragedy isn't just noteworthy just because Ms. Aldridge has a famous family member. It's noteworthy because these two offenders are prime examples of the challenge we face in Chicago with repeat gun offenders who don't care who they shoot, don't care whose life they take, and clearly, clearly don't fear the consequences of their actions.

Repeat gun offenders, indeed: With six felony convictions under his belt, Derren Sorrels was on parole for motor vehicle theft and escape from custody at the time of the shooting; Darwin Sorrells was on parole for a gun charge after being sentenced to six years in 2013 (he was released early). What needs to change before people with histories of gun violence are held more accountable for their actions? 

One person, unsurprisingly, seems to think he knows the answer to that question. Donald Trump weighed in on the tragedy with a predictably tone-deaf and entirely baffling tweet:

What one thing has to do with the other remains unclear, of course (even Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, didn't bother to defend her boss when asked about the tweet on Fox News Sunday, only saying that she was "pleased" his next tweet "expressed his condolences to the Wade family about the death of his cousin"). But empty blanket statements like this one are utterly meaningless and only serve to detract from the real issue here, which is the gun violence epidemic in this country. 

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What we need are real solutions. What we need are neighborhoods where mothers can safely push their babies in a stroller to their children's school. What we need is a country where criminals with histories of gun violence don't have access to weapons and the freedom to use them. 


Image via NBCChicago/Twitter

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