The widow of a 77-year-old church deacon who was killed while he held his 5-year-old great-grandson said she's having a hard time processing why bullets tore through her house and took the love of her life.
"I haven't slept. I haven't cried, and I haven't slept. I'm just like I'm just numb, like I don't have no feeling," Irene Branch said Tuesday. "I can't cry. I can't sleep. And I can't eat."
Branch was inside her home, on the 200 block of West 105th Street, in Chicago's Roseland neighborhood at about 6:30 p.m. Monday when gunfire erupted. Bullets struck Branch's husband, Odell Branch Sr., as well as their 5-year-old great-grandson, as the pair watched television.
Outside, the spray of gunfire also wounded a 34-year-old family friend and her 2-year-old boy as the mother was putting the boy inside a vehicle.
Odell Branch Sr. and the 5-year-old were both taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. Branch Sr., a Gospel Temple Missionary Baptist Church at 103rd and Aberdeen streets, was pronounced dead. The boy fared better and was in stable condition late Monday after taking a bullet to the arm.
"I have nothing left. I have nobody to have my back here," Irene Branch said.
Nikeva Parker was shot in the chest and left hand. She was out of the hospital by midday Tuesday but her 2-year-old son, who police said was shot in the right shoulder, remained hospitalized in critical condition, family members said.
"It’s like this all the time. It’s bad,” said Betty Poole, a CTA bus driver who lives in the neighborhood. “Everybody makes promises about how they can change, but we haven’t seen it."
Several people were in police custody being questioned in connection with the shooting, police maintained Tuesday. Authorities said they believe the home was targeted in an exchange of gunfire between two rival gangs.
A Chicago Police Department spokesman said the teenaged grandson of the Branches, who they say is a known gang member, may have been the intended target of the shooting.
Family and friends of the Branches said no one in the home was involved in gangs.
"This may have stemmed from a retaliation from down the street, but as usual we ask that anybody with any information, turn that information over right away," said community activist Andrew Holmes. "Kids don't deserve this. Grandfathers don't deserve this. Anybody don't deserve to be shot."