Chicago police on Sunday said they have arrested two brothers and charged them with the fatal shooting of basketball star Dwyane Wade’s cousin as she pushed a baby in a stroller, a murder that has stunned a city plagued by a surge in gang-related violence.
In a case that has emerged as a talking point in the U.S. presidential race, Darwin Sorrells Jr., 26, and Derren Sorrells, 22, are facing charges of first-degree murder and attempted murder in the death of Nykea Aldridge, a 32-year-old mother of four, police said.
The brothers, described as “documented gang members,” are convicted felons who were out of prison on parole at the time of the shooting, police officials said at a Sunday press briefing.
Aldridge was hit when the suspects opened fire at the intended target, a driver of a car who told authorities he worked for Uber and was dropping off passengers.
In a briefing on Sunday, police did not say why the driver was targeted except to note that the man was from outside the area and appeared to have an exchange of words with the suspects.
One of the brothers was required to wear a monitoring device as a condition of his home confinement while on parole, except from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. when he was allowed to conduct personal business. It was during those hours that the shooting occurred, police said.
Darwin Sorrells was sentenced to six years in prison in 2013 on a gun charge but was “let out early,” police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said on Twitter on Sunday.
In a city with as many as 90 shootings a week, homicides in Chicago this year are on track to reach their highest since 1997, raising concern about a reversal in the declining rate of serious crime in the country’s largest cities in recent years.
Aldridge’s death has drawn national attention because of the connection to Wade, a 12-time National Basketball Association All-Star who signed a two-year, $47.5 million deal this summer to play for his hometown team, the Chicago Bulls.
“This tragedy isn’t just noteworthy because Ms Aldridge has a famous family member,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson told reporters on Sunday. “It’s noteworthy because these two offenders are the prime example of a challenge we have in Chicago of repeat offenders who ... clearly don’t face the consequences of their actions.”
On Saturday Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said in a campaign speech that the shooting illustrated why black voters would rally behind him, calling it an example of violence that Democrats have failed to address.
Earlier Trump was criticized for politicizing the killing, and for spelling the NBA player’s name wrong, when he sent a Twitter message that read:
“Dwayne Wade’s cousin was just shot and killed walking her baby in Chicago. Just what I have been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!”
Sen. Tim Kaine, who is running for vice president on the Democratic ticket with Hillary Clinton, suggested the remarks were inappropriate when asked about them.
“We ought to be extending our sympathy to the family ― that’s the only reaction that is appropriate right now, and maybe a sadness about this gun violence issue, which we know is complicated,” Kaine said.
Hours after his initial message, Trump followed up with a Tweet that offered condolences to Wade’s family.
When asked about Trump’s remarks, Johnson said: “If you have a magic bullet to stop the violence, not only in Chicago but anywhere in the country, please share it with us.”
(Reporting by Chris Prentice, Jonathan Allen and Frank McGurty in New York; Editing by Alan Crosby and Andrea Ricci)