What Happened? Gakirah Barnes, 17-Year-Old Chicago Girl, Kills Two in Tit-for-Tat Gang Violence Before Being Killed herself

Gakirah Barnes
Gakirah Barnes
She was just 17, a charter school graduate. But little Gakirah Barnes was also purported to have killed two in tit-for-tat gang violence now being celebrated by the recording industry.
She was called “Lil Snoop” by one friend, after the fictional female assassin in the TV show The Wire.Mostly, 17-year-old Gakirah Barnes was known as “K.I.” in the real life and death world of Chicago gangs.

And as K.I., she became a kind of mythic figure in social media, a diminutive gap-toothed girl gunsel who was nobody’s bitch. She was purported to have killed at least twice avenging murdered friends, the first time when she was just 14.

After she herself was killed on April 11, an array of disturbing photos appeared on Instagram of her brandishing a variety of firearms, looking at once like a young girl and exactly like the “shootah” she was said to be.

“I only fw k.i. Cuz she do wat Yu bitch ni**as scared too do !” a senior member of her Fly Boy Gang tweeted before her death.

Yet Barnes does not seem to have ever been convicted of a serious crime, although she was arrested several times. She was never even named a suspect in a shooting.

Her mother, Shontell Brown, allows that Barnes was “not an angel” but describes her as a beautiful and “very loved girl” who would sit with her mom as they played music on their iPhones and joked and laughed.

The photo the mother wishes the world to see is of her daughter in a cap and gown, taken when she graduated from the Charter Perspective/IT Math & Science Academy.

“I just want everyone to know she’s just not what they’ve seen on social media,” Brown says. “She was a young girl that had dreams of being something and getting herself and family away from this life.”

The mother adds, “She didn’t bother anyone…Unless they bothered her. She always was respectable and mannerable.”

Barnes’s father was shot to death on Easter Sunday in 1997, when she was not yet 1. And to have had him taken from her before she even knew him may have helped make her at once self-reliant and hungry to bond with others. This early loss also may have contributed to her strong impulse to keep those dear to her safe from harm.

“She just wanted to protect everybody,” her mother says.

The mother pauses, then adds, “With her lil’ self.”

As Barnes entered her teens, she fell in with a group of young men from her immediate area in Woodlawn on the South Side who called themselves variously the St. Lawrence Boys and the Fly Boy Gang. They included 15-year-old Shondale “Tooka” Gregory, who was shot to death as he waited for a bus in January 2011.

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Source: The Daily Beast | Michael Daly

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