Shock and despair at Midway vigil after homicide

Candace Anderson is comforted by family and friends as she holds a photograph of her son Armani Harris, a 25-year-old Kenwood Academy High School graduate who was shot and killed shortly after midnight on Aug. 23, during a memorial vigil that took place early in the evening of Aug. 23, near the site of Harris’s killing, the intersection of the westbound Midway Plaisance and South Woodlawn Avenue. See story on page 12. -Marc Monaghan

By AARON GETTINGER
Staff Writer

At a vigil Thursday evening, mourners released blue and red balloons, lit candles and questioned why Armani Harris, a Kenwood Academy graduate, was shot and killed earlier that morning on the Midway Plaisance.

Harris, 25, was driving westbound when a suspect pulled beside him at the intersection of Midway Plaisance and Woodlawn Avenue and shot Harris in the head, left shoulder, lower right arm and right thigh at 12:05 a.m. on Aug. 24. Harris drove westbound before crashing into a tree. He was declared dead at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Survivors include two young children, a 3-year-old and an infant. Police are searching for a suspect but have no one in custody.

Cornelius Clark, associate pastor of the Sweet Holy Spirit Church in South Chicago, led the gathering in prayer as a woman played gospel music on a portable speaker. He said coming to grips with the “senseless violence rampaging our world” was beyond his ability with words.

“Let me put it this way: We’re on the campus of UC,” Clark said later as the balloons floated next to Rockefeller Memorial Chapel and over campus. “We’re not talking about where this is isolated to particular neighborhoods. Now it’s going too far. There is no rhyme or reason for what this is.”

This was not the first time Clark has ministered after a shooting, and he said he has gone through trauma counseling himself.

Candace Anderson, the mother of Armani Harris, a 25-year-old Kenwood Academy High School graduate who was shot and killed shortly after midnight on Aug. 23, is hugged by a friend as others set up a memorial in Harris’ memory on a sidewalk near the site of his killing, the intersection of the westbound Midway Plaisance and South Woodlawn Avenue, early in the evening of Aug. 23.-Marc Monaghan

Freddie Savage, a church friend of the Anderson/Harris family, spoke next, his voice wavering with emotion. “We gather here because we know this young man was a good man,” he said. “This is from the pits of hell to snuff out a young life like this.”

Candace Anderson, Harris’ mother, could only stand with the help of supporters on either side. “No parent wants to bury their child,” she said. “I loved my child. I raised my child. When you go home, if you have children in your house, please hug your babies.”

Speaking later to reporters, Anderson said the vigil reflected her son, whom she called a great man who “always wanted to do something for somebody.”

“He was a jovial man. He was a nice man. He was a God-fearing man. He was a great parent. He was a great son,” she said, swearing to pursue justice to the full extent of the law.

Harris’ cousin Ovetta Brown said she would remember his happiness, sense of humor and how he liked to help people.

“I just don’t understand how this could happen to him,” she said.

a.gettinger@hpherald.com