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Nine shots claim teen mom’s life in North Chicago alley

RhondJackson-Mitchell 41 comforts her nephew CalvBurns 19 North Chicago as they talk about fatal shooting Burns' girlfirend Janay McFarlane 18

Rhonda Jackson-Mitchell, 41, comforts her nephew, Calvin Burns, 19, of North Chicago, as they talk about the fatal shooting of Burns' girlfirend, Janay McFarlane, 18, who was killed while walking with him in February. | Thomas Delany Jr.~ Sun-Times Medi

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‘Baby, do you hear me?’

A dozen stuffed animals and more than a dozen balloons mark the spot in North Chicago where Janay McFarlane was shot dead Friday. Poster board was taped to the side of a garage where she died that said things like “I’ll love you to the death of me” and another phrase that popped up a lot: “Baby, do you hear me?” There was an angel carving, a peace rock with a yellow-and- black bird, and some teddy bears held a rose and balloons.

Erick Frydrych, 42, lives next door to Janay’s aunt at the Marion Jones townhomes, a block of public housing that is scheduled to be torn down not far from the shooting scene. He helped put up the memorial.

“She definitely will be missed. I lived next to her aunt for five years and seen her grow up. It’s a terrible loss,” he said. “I always said to her ‘Hey Janay, What da ya say!’ and she always responds in a monotone, ‘Hey Erick.’ It’s old to her, but she still played along.”

A nearby neighbor, Raymond Gonzales, 46, said the area is very dangerous.

“People are always walking through here to the liquor store,” he said. “Too many groups around here.

“I stay at home in the night. I’m sorry for her,” he said, pointing to the memorials on the garage.

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Updated: April 20, 2013 2:30AM

“I had a bad feeling,” said Calvin Burns about the night his girlfriend Janay McFarlane was gunned down near him in a North Chicago alley.

Burns said McFarlane was finishing her purchase at a local convenience store when another neighborhood man “was muggin’ me,” Burns said, making faces. “He never got anything, He just went up and talked to the guy at the counter. He was saying something to him and then he left out.”

As they walked back outside with another friend and went around the corner to the alley, Burns saw a very large man with some facial hair standing near a black Pontiac Bonneville. “He jumped into the passenger seat and they came through the alley,” he said.

Shots rang out, about nine in all, as they all took off running. “Two shots went right by the side of my head,” said Burns, 19.

All three tried to escape down the alley, including the friend, who was not named and is in a different gang than the one in the neighborhood.

“Then I see her laying there,” Burns said. He picked her head up “and blood was coming out of her head on the right side. Then I just put her head down,” fearful that he might make the injury worse, he said.

Burns’ aunt, who lives nearby in the 1300 block of Jackson Street, came out to help.

“I held her hand,” said Jackson-Mitchell, “She was talking to me saying, ‘Jayden, Jayden,’ and blood was coming from everywhere,” she said. Jayden is McFarlane’s 4-month-old son.

“We’ll never see that pretty smile again. She just brightened up the room whenever she walked into the house,” she said. “It needs to stop. Too many kids have guns. Where are they getting those guns?”

She continued: “I make sure I have no guns in my house. I don’t believe in guns. They’re killing too many young people, babies.”

Janay’s father, Joseph McFarlane, walked the alley Monday afternoon after coming back from Chicago. He lives in Beach Park.

“I had to walk where my baby walked,” he said, noting that he also talked to Burns about the night she died.

“I just want the people who got my baby to get caught,” he said, recounting how he had to identify her body from a cellphone picture a detective showed him. “They shot at them nine times and she got one in the head.”

He talked to police, but said they couldn’t say much except they have two persons of interest in custody. He said lots of people are talking to him and he intends to go to the vigil at the crime scene at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb 19. The vigil will be held east of Jackson Street and south of 13th Street, about half way down the alley.

“We also provided some more information from one of her friends to police,” he said.

But Monday, Jackson-Mitchell was still upset with police. Two days prior to McFarlane’s murder, her house was “sprayed” with gunfire in another incident.

She told North Chicago Mayor Leon Rockingham about her fear and frustration, as she gave him a tour Monday of her bullet-riddled kitchen and second floor. One shot went right a cooking pot on the floor. The shooting happened the Wednesday before McFarlane was shot.

“They were standing right there in the alley,” she said showing the mayor and visitors five bullet holes on the first floor and three bullet holes on the second floor. Police came and gathered the shell casings outside and pulled some slugs out of the walls. “There’s bullets everywhere,” she said.

“It’s a shame they took someone’s life like this,” she said. “It could have been me walking to the store.”

North Chicago Police Cmdr. George McClary said Monday there are no new updates and authorities are still gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses.

Two names are circulating around the neighborhood, however McClary could not confirm they are the two being held for questioning.

Rockingham hugged Burns and Jackson-Mitchell at one point inside the house and he also participated in prayers outside their home. Asked about the investigation, he said, “We may have something today or tomorrow.”

Gurnee Pastor Joshua Randolph, 36, led prayers outside by the crime scene. He is part of CeaseFire, a group which includes former gang members trying to bring peace to the streets.

“We pray you bring light to this darkness. Give them the strength to make it through these hard times,” he said as everyone held hands. “We pray for this city, bring peace to this city.”

McFarlane’s little sister, Destini, sat behind President Obama when he spoke on gun violence Friday at Chicago’s Hyde Park Career Academy. Less that 12 hours later, her sister Janay was gunned down.

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