Two Chicago Anti-Gun Advocates Murdered in Drive-By Shooting

Two mothers who worked to end gun violence in their Chicago neighborhood were killed in a drive-by shooting. Andrea Stoudemire, 36, and Chantel Grant, 26, volunteered with Mothers/Men Against Senseless Killings (MASK) for two years before becoming victims of gun violence.

Stoudemire, a mother of three, and Grant, a mother of four, were fatally shot in Chicago’s Auburn Gresham neighborhood just before 10 p.m. on July 26. Chicago Police said that a blue SUV pulled up to the corner of 75th Street and Stewart Avenue, where MASK members congregate, and opened fire into a crowd.

The two women were killed in the shooting and a 30-year-old man suffered a graze wound on the arm, according to the Chicago Police. Authorities said that Stoudemire and Grant were shot multiple times and pronounced dead at the hospital. A 58-year-old man sustained minor injuries after falling to the ground, NBC News reported.

“This is still very much under investigation, but at this time, we have no evidence that we can point to that suggests the women were the intended targets. We also have no evidence to the contrary,” CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told The Chicago Sun-Times.

Guglielmi did not immediately respond to The North Star’s request for comment.

MASK confirmed the deaths in a news conference held on July 28. “For mothers to be killed in a place where mothers go to seek safety and sisterhood, I take that as a personal threat,” MASK founder Tamar Manasseh said.

In an interview with The Chicago Sun-Times, Manasseh called the shooting “terrifying” and “heartbreaking.” Manasseh founded MASK in 2015 in an effort to deter violence in the neighborhood. Mothers would “occupy” the corner of 75th and Stewart and also offer counseling, healthy meals, and homes for youths in need.

MASK member Maria Pike, who lost her son in 2012 to gun violence, told WLS-TV that the corner where the shooting occurred was “a haven that was built by moms.”

“It is sacred ground, as far as we’re concerned,” Pike told the ABC affiliate. “It is personal because any kind of violence, regardless of whether you are affected, or you are the offender, is wrong.”

On July 29, a group of mourners left candles and flowers at a memorial on the corner for the two mothers. Charvonda Andrews, Stoudemire’s longtime friend, told The Chicago Sun-Times that she is trying to hold it together after losing her friend of more than twenty years.

“I’m trying to hold up. I’m taking it literally one day at a time,” Andrews explained. “Honestly, every 30 minutes I’m crying. But I’m trying to just hold it together right now. That’s been my best friend since fifth grade.

“She was very outgoing. Very spontaneous. Loved to smile,” Andrews said of Stoudemire. “She loved taking care of her kids. That’s the main thing. Her kids were her world.”

Manasseh launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise a $5,000 reward to bring “these mother killers to justice.” The fundraising account, created on July 29, has raised more than $21,000 as of August 1.

“They weren’t in gangs, associating with the wrong people, in the wrong place at the wrong time, or any of the other things they tell us so we blame the victims instead of the shooters who no one seems to be able to catch,” Manasseh wrote in the GoFundMe. “They were just women, just like me, like you, and we have become the target of whomever these shooters are.”

“At this point, I don’t know if I’m more afraid for my life or what we are giving the children, our block, and the entire community over to if our fear convinces us to leave our corner, abandon our mission, our school, and our people. Therefore, WE AREN’T GOING ANYWHERE,” she continued. “The murder of a woman brought us to that corner, so there’s no way we’re going to let the murder of another drive us away.”

The drive-by shooting on July 26 was the second on the block within the span of a month, The Chicago Sun-Times reported. A 23-year-old woman was wounded after being shot multiple times while standing on the corner at around 9 p.m. on June 25. The woman was shot in the face, back, and leg but her injuries were not fatal.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.