Carolyn Zeigler

 

Age: 54
Shot: Antonio (son) Age 19, Tanaja (great-niece) Age 9 & Michael (nephew) Age 34

Case Summary: On January 22, 2000, Antonio got into a car with a cousin, to go play basketball. As Antonio sat in the parked car, an unknown gunman fired into the window, killing him. Case Status: Unsolved

Case summary: In August 2010, Tanaja Stokes, 9 and Ariana Jones, 7, were outside jumping rope on the sidewalk. Two teens rode up on their bicycles and opened fire at the girls, killing Tanaja and wounding Ariana. Case status: In January 2014, Steshawn Brisco, 20, and Marcus Cocroft, 19, were sentenced for the shootings.

Case summary: Michael Kizer was shot and killed on the street. Case status: Devonta Williams, 19, has been charged with first-degree murder in Michael’s slaying.

Carolyn Zeigler came to Roseland in 1962. She grew up near 109th Place and Perry Avenue, then later moved onto one of the worst blocks in the neighborhood, referred to even by its own residents as Skid Row, or just “the Row.” She moved out of that house when things got “too reckless” and went to live with her mother in Hyde Park. 

Many of her extended family members, including her oldest son Antonio, stayed in a Roseland home that has been owned by the family since the ‘60s.  Antonio taught basketball, and had been a basketball scholar at Roseland Christian Ministries. He’d been a Jesse White tumbler. He’d graduated high school and was looking for work.

On January 20, 2000, Antonio called his mother. He talked about leaving Roseland, because he planned to move to Joliet with his grandmother. “He wanted to talk to everyone, he wanted to tell them he loved them,” Carolyn said. “He said, ‘Pray for me.’” Baffled by this behavior, she told her son she’d see him soon.

On January 22 her son Antonio got into a car with a cousin, who’d invited him to play basketball at a nearby park. According to the Chicago Tribune, as Antonio sat in the parked car, an unknown gunman fired into the window, killing him.


He was not the target. But he should have known.

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Antonio was not the first child Carolyn had lost. All six of her children (born between 1980 and 1986) were born premature. Antonio was only 1 pound 6 ounces at birth. Her daughters Diashia and Ebony died at 2 years old and 6 months old, respectively, from SIDS and complications of their premature births. Her daughter Dominique, 30, has numerous health issues and lives with Carolyn. Another son, Christopher, 31, is “in and out of jail” and she rarely sees him.

Her daughter Michelle, 35, graduated from Whitney Young High School, one of Chicago’s top schools, then went on to college at University of Illinois at Chicago. She’s now a wife and mother. 

The violence in Roseland has escalated over the years, Carolyn said. Years ago, gang members would shoot at each other. But now, gang initiations now include orders to “go and kill 10 women” randomly, she said, or to kill children or family members of rivals.

In August 2010, Carolyn’s nieces Tanaja Stokes and Ariana Jones were outside jumping rope on the sidewalk. Two teens rode up on their bicycles and opened fire, killing Tanaja and wounding Ariana, who survived but has a bullet lodged in her skull that could not be removed. 

Her nephew, Michael, 34, saw what happened, and reported the shooters, whom he knew, to the police, Carolyn says. 

Two and half years later, Steshawn Brisco, 20, was sentenced to 75 years in prison for the shootings. His codefendant, Marcus Cocroft, was sentenced to 55 years in prison, newspaper reports say. 

However, other gang members retaliated, Carolyn said. “They came back and shot him in the head, in front of his mother, my sister,” Carolyn said. 

The Chicago Tribune reported that at 2:30 p.m. on May 29, 2013, Devonta Williams, 19, walked up to Michael Kizer and shot and killed him.

This fierce retaliation is one of reasons that shootings in Roseland often remain unsolved. Even if people know who’s responsible for a shooting, they’re fearful of reporting them to the police. 

As her children were growing up, she tried to “keep them in church a lot” to counter the negative influences of the street, Carolyn said. She is very involved at Roseland Christian Ministries, where she helps with a food program and with the women and children’s ministry. “This is my life,” she says of the Ministry.