Assailants Shoot 21-Year-Old Chicago Woman in the Face, Left for Dead While Attending Luau Party

by Xara Aziz
Courtesy of Natasha Graham, mother to Kanesha Gaines/Facebook

A Chicago woman has been left in mourning after hearing the devastating news that her eldest daughter – the second of her children to pass away from gun violence – has succumbed to a gunshot wound to the face.  

“I’m unbearably hurt,” Natasha Graham told ABC 7 Chicago. “That’s my oldest daughter. That’s my oldest daughter,” she repeated.

Twenty-one-year-old Kanesha Gaines was gunned down after a suspect opened fire in the city’s North Lawndale neighborhood early Sunday morning. Eight others were wounded.

“Kanesha was a funny everything,” Graham said. “She was outgoing. She was the queen of the world.”

According to police, the shooting took place shortly after midnight in the 1500 block of South Keeler Avenue.

Gaines was in the area with a group of other women to attend a luau party, a Hawaiian-themed celebration. While in attendance, a black Jeep pulled up to the location. Several suspects hopped out of the vehicle and began spraying the women with bullets.

“With all these women being shot, something has to be personal. Why would you just unload on a yard, a house full of women that was here on the outside celebrating someone’s birthday,” community activist Andrew Holmes said.

All victims, ranging between the ages of 20 and 33, were wounded. Gaines, who was shot in the face, was pronounced dead. One woman, 28, was shot eight times and is in critical condition.

“You can’t even go outside no more,” Maria Brison, a community resident said.

Just four years ago, Graham lost her 18-year-old son to gun violence.

“With what you’ve got left, you’re just trying to hold onto it as close as you can,” Graham said. “Don’t let your kids outside.”

Gaines was a home healthcare worker and part-time stylist at the time of her death. She is survived by her 3-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter.

Graham is now pleading with the community to resist resorting to gun violence.

“I’m going to continue to be the strong one I’m going to help my family and we’re going to make it past this,” Graham said.

At the time of this writing, no suspects have been apprehended. Detectives are investigating.

On Sunday, Chicago police said in a statement that “Our hearts are with the family and loved ones of the victim who was killed. We are also walking alongside those injured in this shooting and those who were present and witnessed the reprehensible act of violence.”

“The Chicago Police Crime Victim Services Unit set up an assistance center for those impacted by the shooting in North Lawndale,” according to ABC 7 Chicago. “Located at the Deliverance Temple of Apostolic Faith Church at 1457 South Komensky Avenue, the center will be open on Monday from 1 PM until 7 PM.”

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