Shot: Kamari Pleasant (son) Age 16
Case summary: In July 2015, Kamari was shot at on his front porch when returning home at midnight. A bullet grazed his arm, burning him but leaving him otherwise uninjured. A week later, a bullet went through his foot as he ran away from another shooter who opened fire on several teens leaving a basketball game. He was injured but survived. Case Status: Unsolved.
As he walked home late one night in 2015, Kamari Pleasant heard a car in the street behind him. He had reached his front porch when bullets started flying.
The sixteen year old took off running, and his mother, Kisha, awakened by the sound gunshots, grabbed her phone and called her son. “Where are you? Where are you?” she asked. He told her he thought he’d been shot, and to open the front door.
A moment later, Kamari ran down the street and into the house. He had a burn mark on his arm where a bullet had grazed it, but thankfully he’d escaped without any other injury.
Who was it, his mother demanded to know. He said he didn’t know, that he hadn’t had any problems with anyone.
“They come around frequently, just shooting,” Kisha says. “Unfortunately, it’s normal for people to come and just shoot.” Sadly, you don't have to be in a gang to become a target, and the motive for shooting can be based on which block you live on or who you hang out with, she adds.
A week later, Kamari was leaving a gym where he’d been playing basketball with friends. Suddenly, a car pulled up and started shooting. He and his friends ran, first away from the gym, then back into it. Kamari could feel a sharp pain in his foot.
When he got inside, a total stranger carried him to the bleachers. He discovered that as he ran, a bullet had bounced off the sidewalk, piercing the bottom of his shoe, and gone through his foot.
Thankfully, Kamari survived both incidents. Because he went to the emergency room for treatment of his foot, the crime was reported, but no one has been charged. Kamari had no idea who was shooting at him. After the shootings, Kamari stayed at home, not even wanting to go outside. But lately, he’s begun hanging out with friends again, his mother says. She frowns, smoothes her hair. “He wants to go to people’s house, one of his friends has a car…I just keep praying.”
She worries about her daughter Kianti, 13, as well. “I don’t live in fear, I keep praying, but I don’t want her to go to school here,” she says. Kamari recently finished his high school education at an alternative school, Magic Johnson Bridgescape.
Kisha moved to Roseland with her family when she was just 7 years old, and grew up here. She says she might want to eventually get out of Roseland.
She moved away because of the violence in 2004, while still attending church at Roseland Christian Ministries. She found a small apartment in Blue Island, a less violent area not too far away. Rents are higher in Blue Island, so the apartment she and her children shared was small. In 2011, she considered a move to DeKalb, where low-income housing was available and she would have much more space.
Pastor Joe suggested she join the Homes Program of Roseland Christian Ministries, a revitalization program which buys boarded up houses within the neighborhood, and rehabs them, allowing families to earn sweat equity by helping with the rehab, then work toward owning the home. She lives there with her three children and her mother.
It has not been easy, though. She recalls feeing “scared and traumatized” coming back to Roseland back then, and remembers going out one morning to find all of the windows on her car shot out. “I’d heard that my house used to be a house where drugs were sold,” she said.
She works at Roseland Christian Ministries as an administrative assistant. At times she feels conflicted about staying in Roseland—wanting to keep her children safe, but also wanting to be an influence for good in the troubled neighborhood.
“I keep praying,” she says. “I’m not hopeless. I'm happy, blessed and God is definitely watching over all of us. I do think things can change. We have to be willing to reach out and connect with those who are doing the shooting. They don't know any better and they need love and guidance too. My spirits are up and I'm smiling everyday because He woke me up this morning, I can talk, walk, and sing! This building is a safe haven,” she says of Roseland Christian Ministries.