Outraged over the shooting of five young people including the killing of 19-year-old Tacara Tunstall last Saturday, August 13, Father Michael Pfleger is offering a $10,000 reward leading to the arrest of her killer.
After losing his foster son, 18-year-old Jarvis Franklin on May 30, 1998, caught in the crossfire of gang warfare at 79th and Carpenter, Pfleger should be used to the constant drive-by shootings and mass murders, but he refuses to accept gun violence incidents as the norm in Chicago.
Referring to the August 13 shooting of the five youths and the killing of Tunstall, Pfleger told the Chicago Crusader, “There has been another mass shooting, not in a suburb, but in Auburn Gresham.”
And because the location of the shootings was in the Black community, Pfleger isn’t confident that this case will get proper attention from the police.
“It won’t get the attention of our outcry because lives are unfortunately still valued due to race.”
Two years ago, Pfleger went to the scene of the mass killing of 15 people at 78th and Carpenter outside the Rhodes Funeral Home, across the street from where he held the hands of his dying son. While police labeled that shooting a “cold case” years ago, no one has been arrested.
Pfleger makes this conclusion because several of his own members have lost children to gun violence, including Pam Bosley, whose 18-year-old son, Terrell Bosley, was fatally shot on April 4, 2006, while standing outside a South Side church. Bosley, who heads the Purpose Over Pain anti-violence organization, continues to fight against gun violence. No one has been arrested in her son’s murder.
Another Saint Sabina member, Chicago Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt’s 16-year-old son, Blair Holt, was killed on May 10, 2007, while aboard a CTA bus. Unlike most Chicago murders, her son’s murder was solved; the killer was caught.
Michael Pace, then 27, was sentenced to 75 years in prison for fatally shooting Holt’s son.
Originally, Pace had been sentenced to 100 years; however, there were new guidelines for youth convicted as juveniles, which allowed for the reduction of his time.
Pfleger referred to Saturday’s murder of Tunstall who was killed in that shoot out, according to the Chicago Police Department. “A young girl with dreams was murdered and the lives of four teens were forever changed, and a community is once again traumatized, and the city simply yawns, and moves on.
“We are offering a $10,000 reward because first, their lives do matter, and second to declare you can’t simply shoot and kill our children and not be held accountable.
“We offer a reward in hopes that someone will speak up and bring justice for these victims and hold the shooters accountable,” Pfleger said.
According to the police, those shot around 12:20 a.m. last Saturday in the 7800 block of South Wood Street included a 17-year-old girl who was shot in her back, and three teenage males whose ages ranged from 17 to 19.
No arrests have been made by the police, but Area Two detectives continue their investigation.
According to Chicago police, last year there were 797 murders resulting in a “clearance rate” of 50 percent; however, according to a Chicago Sun-Times analysis, half of those cases, or 199, were closed labeled “exceptionally,” which means no one was charged.
To draw attention to and help reduce the shootings in the Auburn Gresham community, Pfleger holds 7 p.m. Friday peace marches calling for an end to gun violence.
However, this Friday, August 19, Pfleger’s Saint Sabina parish will host its second block party, where the church will provide back-to-school supplies, entertainment for the youth and adults, a DJ, free lightbulbs and enough food to feed 1,000 people.
The church’s summer peace marches will resume at 7 p.m., Friday, August 26, at Saint Sabina Church, 1210 W. 78th Place.