Fourth sibling from same Chicago family killed by gun violence

A mom who the Chicago Tribune wrote about in 2000 because she had three kids die violently just had her last remaining child die 12 years later¿ after he had just appeared on TV to warn about gang violence.

After Shirley Chambers lost her third child to gun violence in 2000, she said she felt sadder for her surviving son, Ronnie, than she did for herself.

"I only have one child left," Chambers told the Tribune at the time, "and I'm afraid that (the killing) won't stop until he's gone too."

Chambers' worst fears apparently were realized early Saturday, when police said a man named Ronnie Chambers, 33, was fatally struck when a gunman or gunmen opened fire on a van Chambers was riding in just after it arrived in the 1100 block of South Mozart Street.

Family friends and neighbors confirmed Chambers was the fourth and last child of Shirley Chambers, who could not be reached for comment Saturday.

"He was the last one," said family friend Laverne Smith, 30. "I know she's hurting."

Smith said it's unthinkable this could have happened again to the family.

"It's ridiculous," Smith said. "We need to get the guns off the street and build a good life for our babies. We need to really get together and stop fighting."

Smith, who lives near where the shooting occurred, said she heard loud gunfire about 2 a.m. and ran outside to find Ronnie Chambers shot in the head. She said he died in her arms.

Smith said she also knew Chambers' sister, LaToya Chambers, and had grown up with them in the Cabrini-Green neighborhood on the Near North Side. LaToya was a classmate, about two years ahead, at Edward Jenner School, she said.

LaToya was killed at age 15 in the lobby of a Cabrini-Green high-rise April 26, 2000, during an argument between her boyfriend and a 13-year-old boy, who was later convicted.

Her brothers Carlos and Jerome also were gunshot victims.

Carlos, then 18, was shot and killed just after Thanksgiving 1995 at the corner of Jackson Boulevard and State Street, apparently by a boy with whom he'd had an argument.

Jerome was shot and killed at age 23 on July 26, 2000. He had reportedly been standing at a pay phone in the 400 block of West Chicago Avenue when a maroon van pulled up and its occupant opened fire.

According to a 2000 Tribune story, Ronnie Chambers had tattoos on his forearms to remind him of his dead siblings: a crucifix with a ribbon draped across it commemorated Carlos, a tombstone with a crucifix was for Jerome and another tombstone with a cross honored LaToya.

"They say you can't outrun death, but I can try to dodge it," Ronnie said then. "I don't even try to live day by day anymore; it's more like second by second."

After his death Saturday, Smith called Ronnie Chambers "my everything. I lost a part of me. ... Nothing that anyone can say can make me feel better."

In a December appearance on the "The Ricki Lake Show," Chambers identified himself as a former gang member who was trying to help others stay away from that kind of life.

Police said he'd been arrested 29 times and had four felony convictions. Records show his most recent conviction was in 2005 for receiving, possessing or selling a stolen motor vehicle. He was sentenced to three years in the Illinois Department of Corrections, records show.

Chambers, whose nickname was "Scooby," had been "trying to change his life," Smith said.

He worked in the music business, and had returned from an event for YK, an aspiring rapper he was trying to help, when the shooting occurred, Smith said.

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