Slain Chicago boy's ex-baseball coach calls for new ways to stop violence

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Slain Chicago boy's ex-baseball coach calls for new ways to stop violence

Unread post by alexalonso » December 14th, 2009, 1:57 pm

This topic correspond to the post that can be found at Garvey (Chicago Tribune)
December 14, 2009

CHICAGO- As the investigation continued into the shotgun slaying of an 11-year-old boy that left his father in critical condition, the youth's former baseball coach said he hopes the shootings will prompt new tactics in addressing violence.

"I think we have to do things to strengthen our families," said Department of Children and Family Services Director Erwin McEwen, who coached Ashton Wise for two years in the South Side Little League club, where he also got to know the boy's father, Kenneth Wise, 42.

McEwen said Sunday that organizations like DCFS should not just target children who are abused or neglected but also should extend programs like parenting classes to more in the community. McEwen said he supports subsidizing recreational fees -- such as for Little League -- that low-income families can't afford.

But he said the violence cannot be immediately halted and hoped citizens seek long-term strategies. "We did not get into this situation overnight," he said. "Stop looking for the overnight solution."

Ashton and his father, both of the 6800 block of South East End Avenue, were shot just before 8:30 p.m. Friday near East 78th Street and South Kingston Avenue. According to police, a gunman fired on their parked vehicle, hitting Ashton in the head. He died on the scene, and his father, shot in the arm and back, was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital with critical injuries and was expected to live, officials said.

Police said Saturday that they believed a relative of Ashton's may have been a gang member, a claim disputed by a member of the Wises' family.

McEwen said calling crimes "gang-related" merely serves as a way to diminish the tragedy. "Not even a gang member's family deserves" the heartbreak visited upon the Wises," McEwen said. Kenneth Wise "wasn't one of those guys who would drop his son off at practices," McEwen said. Wise stuck around so much that he "wound up like being an assistant coach."

"This is not an absentee father," McEwen said. "If a dad who's committed and with his kid every day can't keep his kid safe, don't tell me it's gang-related. It's community-related."

Ashton attended the sixth grade at Ruggles Elementary School, 7831 S. Prairie Ave., said Chicago Public Schools officials.

Police issued a community alert Saturday seeking tips on the slaying, committed by someone described as wearing a "dark, hooded jacket." Those with information should call detectives at 312-747-8271.

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