Six-year-old Arianna Gibson couldn't wait to return to school Monday.
Beginning first grade at Libby Elementary School was all the young girl could talk about this summer and at her grandmother's block party Saturday in the Englewood neighborhood. The bubbly, polite Gibson loved to read, write her name and count money, friends and family said.
“She loved school. She loved everything,” said Gibson's mother, Demitta Collins, 34. “She was just a lovely little girl.”
After falling asleep on the couch to the movie “The Temptations,” Gibson was fatally shot around 6 a.m. Sunday when someone walked up to the front porch of the one-story brick bungalow and fired a gun through the living room window, police said.
Two others were wounded during the incident on the 7400 block of Sangamon Street. As of Sunday, no one was in custody and Wentworth-area detectives were still investigating, police said.
Stacey Jones, 17, who lives at the home, was shot in the ankle and a 17-year-old man, whose name was not released by authorities, was wounded on the side of his body, family said. The teenagers underwent surgeries to remove the bullets and are expected to survive.
Family members said the teenage male is a neighborhood friend who entered the home sometime after 4 a.m., when neighbors unofficially ended the festivities. They believe he was the target.
As soon as she heard the shots, Linda Chatman, 36, a family friend who lives at the home, ushered sleeping children from the living and dining rooms into a nearby bedroom.
Gibson initially stood up in the bedroom but quickly slumped down on her stomach as blood started gushing from her side, Chatman said. Though the brown-eyed girl was still breathing when paramedics arrived, neighbors said they realized she didn't make it when police began placing red tape around the home.
The incident left the neighborhood at a loss. Residents stood on their porches and front lawns wondering why a child was killed after a fun, family-friendly block party that went just as planned.
At the party, children competed in egg races and water balloon contests while neighbors passed out school supplies. Gibson, whose face was painted like a clown, ran from house to house to greet people as she helped unwrap Popsicles for youngsters.
“She was smiling the whole time,” recalled neighbor Derrick Washington, 14. “She seemed like a good little girl.”
Gibson's grandmother Christine Collins, 54, took the death especially hard. Gibson spent nearly every weekend with Collins, who also lives in the home. The little girl jumped with excitement every time her grandmother entered the room, said Gwendolyn Chatman, 60, a family friend.
Collins said she had a hard time telling Gibson, the youngest of eight grandchildren, “no” when she asked for snacks or candy.
“She begged me to come over,” said Collins, as tears streamed down her face. “She wanted to see me.”Inside the home, tiny shards of glass were still on the floor and bullet holes could be seen in the TV. A curling CeaseFire sticker with an anti-violence message was plastered on the front door.
“Everybody was just having fun” at the block party, Chatman said, as she stood on the porch near a shattered window. “I don't know what went wrong between last night and this morning.”
WGN-TV assignment editor Sam Unger contributed.