Two weeks to the day after he was paroled from prison, Derren Sorrells allegedly shot and killed Nykea Aldridge in Chicago.
Derren, 22, and his brother Darwin Sorrells, 26, were charged with first-degree murder Sunday for shooting and killing Aldridge, 32, cousin of basketball star Dwyane Wade. Her death made news across the nation, not the least of which for Donald Trump’s crass co-opting of it. The mother of four was mortally wounded when she was shot in the head while pushing her child in a stroller through the city’s South Side on Friday afternoon.
The brothers shouldn’t have even been on the streets.
Derren Sorrells was wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet when he is alleged to have opened fire and had already been convicted of violating the terms of his electronic monitoring (and possession of a stolen vehicle). Sorrells was sentenced to a total of eight years in prison in 2012 but paroled on Aug. 12 of this year, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Derren was electronically monitored as a condition of parole and allowed a few hours of free movement each day to run errands or look for a job.
“Obviously, this individual used his time to kill someone,” Chicago police Cmdr. Brendan Deenihan said at a Sunday press conference.
Darwin Sorrells, described as a “co-conspirator,” was paroled in February 2016 for a 2013 conviction on firearms and possession of a stolen vehicle charges. He was serving a six-year sentence, according to Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.
Both were known to police as gang members.
“These two offenders are the prime examples of the challenge we face here in Chicago,” said police superintendent Eddie Johnson.
Johnson explained that 1,400 people on the city’s “Strategic Subject List” are to blame for most of the gun violence that has claimed more than 435 lives so far this year. The majority of the people on the list are repeat gun offenders, Johnson said, adding that judges and the law are too lenient on them. For example, 75 percent of those arrested for illegal gun possession from January to March were out of jail by June, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Johnson (like his predecessor Garry McCarthy, fired after the Laquan McDonald killing) is calling on lawmakers to require judges to put gun offenders away for the upper range of sentencing guidelines, unless they specify why less time behind bars is necessary.
“If they’re choosing that lifestyle, we have to choose to keep them accountable for it,” Johnson added.
The Sorrells brothers were aiming for a driver who was dropping women off in the area, police said, but missed and struck Aldridge instead. The intended target was “100 percent cooperative” and helped the police identify the suspects, Cmdr. Brendan Deenihan said.
Aldridge had just registered her children for school, Johnson said.
Wade, a Chicago native who recently signed with the Bulls after a winning stretch in Miami, mourned on social media.
“My cousin was killed today in Chicago. Another act of senseless gun violence. 4 kids lost their mom for NO REASON. Unreal,” he tweeted on Friday.
“The city of Chicago is hurting. We need more help& more hands on deck. Not for me and my family but for the future of our world. The YOUTH!” Wade tweeted Saturday.
As soon as the news of his cousin’s death broke, Trump took to Twitter and made it about himself as usual.
“Dwayne Wade’s cousin was just shot and killed walking her baby in Chicago. Just what I have been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!” he wrote, misspelling the NBA star’s name.
After a subsequent tweet correcting the spelling of Wade’s name, Trump (or someone on his staff) tweeted a message of condolence.
“My condolences to Dwyane Wade and his family, on the loss of Nykea Aldridge. They are in my thoughts and prayers.”
Johnson, the police superintendent, was asked about Trump’s tweets.
“If you have a magic bullet to stop crime not just here, but everywhere in America, then please, share it with us,” he said curtly.
Chicago’s murders were up 72 percent in the first quarter of 2016 over the previous year, while shootings overall had increased 88 percent over the same period (3,000 and counting) over the same period. Police said the uptick came mostly from gang violence concentrated in a few parts of the city’s south and west sides.
Derren Sorrells’s gang, the Gangster Disciples, has an estimated 30,000 members across the country. In May, more than four dozen people, many of them in Atlanta, were indicted for gang-related criminal activity—including a police officer who’d served in the armed forces.
Aldridge’s family held a prayer vigil for her Sunday afternoon at the Willie Mae Morris Empowerment Center. Aldridge was the second child her mother lost to gun violence, her aunt, Jolinda Wade, told WGN-TV.