A 14-year-old Chicago girl accused of killing another girl in a dispute over a boy tried unsuccessfully to fire a gun before someone fixed it for her and handed it back to her so she could open fire, prosecutors said Tuesday.
That detail emerged during a hearing in juvenile court on the latest incident of violence grabbing headlines in Chicago. The suspect appeared at the hearing on a first-degree murder charge in Monday's slaying of 14-year-old Endia Martin.
Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy told reporters earlier in the day that the girls were fighting over a boy. According to prosecutors, the suspect went to a residence in the Back of the Yards neighborhood on the city's South Side about 4:30 Monday afternoon to continue a fight that began on Facebook.
A visibly upset McCarthy told reporters that the shooting of Martin illustrates a point he's long made: It is far too easy to get a gun in Chicago. For more than a year, McCarthy has sought stiffer state penalties for gun crimes.
"What would have been, under any other circumstances, probably a fistfight between two 14-year-old girls because they were arguing over a boy turned into a murder," he said.
According to a statement read in court and relayed later by the Cook County state's attorney's office, the girl pointed the gun at a group of people standing on a porch and pulled the trigger, but it would not fire.
She then "handed the gun to an individual in the group to clear the malfunction and they handed it back" to her, at which point she opened fire with what police said is a .38-caliber revolver, striking Martin in the back and a 16-year-old girl in the arm.
The 14-year-old suspect's name has not been released because she is charged as a juvenile.
No one else had been charged as of Tuesday afternoon, prosecutors said. However, the investigation is continuing, and McCarthy said that two other people had been taken into custody. Police suspect one of the people is the person who brought the gun to the scene of the fight, and that both people tried to discard it after the shooting.
The girl was represented by an attorney with the county's public defender and the office declined to comment.
McCarthy said the gun was reported stolen two weeks ago from a car parked in another neighborhood on the city's South Side. Part of the police investigation includes tracking how that weapon ended up being used in a homicide.
Chicago's battle with violent crime has been closely watched. In 2012, it led the U.S. in homicides with more than 500. It ended 2013 with 415 homicides -- the lowest total in nearly half a century but still far more than any other U.S. city, including much larger Los Angeles and New York.
The overall crime rate fell last year to a level not seen since 1972, and the number of shooting incidents involving victims 16 and younger dropped 40 percent in 12 months, city officials say.
Last Friday, a 32-year-old Chicago woman named Leonore Draper was shot to death after attending a fundraiser for an anti-violence group. Police said she was apparently caught in rival gangs' crossfire and was not the intended target.