Group seeks justice for Elijah Sims—an Oak Park teen fatally shot 2 years ago in Chicago’s Austin ne
About two years have passed since Oak Park and River Forest High School student Elijah Sims was struck by a bullet as he stood with his friend in the 5500 block of West Quincy Street in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood.
Sims died after the shooting, which happened on Aug. 29, 2016. He was 16 years old.
On Saturday, a group set out in search of answers. They took to the streets around midday, passing out fliers, knocking on doors and seeking answers in the Oak Park teen’s death. A similar type of effort had been organized in the past to help spread the word.
According to a statement from the Chicago Police Department, the case is still open, and area north detectives are investigating.
Among those orchestrating the effort this time around were volunteers for Suburban Unity Alliance and Cook County Crime Stoppers.
“It’s important to keep his memory at the forefront,” said Anthony Clark, director of Suburban Unity Alliance and an Oak Park and River Forest High School teacher. “We’re walking in the community; we’re passing out fliers; we’re trying to get the word out.”
Sims’ mother, Sharita Galloway of Oak Park, said that knowing the investigation is still going is upsetting.
“The day before yesterday would’ve been his birthday,” she said Saturday. “No one is in custody. The detectives have been working. No one is talking to them.”
Chicago resident Ricky Marble, 18, said he felt compelled to be part of the effort and noted that Sims’ death has been a lot to take in.
“It’s all crazy to me,” he said.
Marble recalled the moments that he and Sims shared, saying they had been friends since the fourth grade. Galloway and her family used to live in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood years ago.
Some of those involved in the effort wore T-shirts and/or wristbands in memory of Sims’ life.
“Many of our youth internalize the violence seen in the news and in surrounding communities,” Clark said. “It creates issues. It’s important to deal with the social impact of losing people to violence, as they did with Elijah. It’s pain. People are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Clark said it’s important to remember that Sims is more than just another statistic.
“It’s nothing new that a murder goes unsolved and people walk free,” he said. “This happens nationwide. Elijah was an unintended target. It is frustrating knowing justice hasn’t been reached. We hope justice will come.”
The group had approximately 1,200 fliers to distribute as they sought answers to the unsolved case involving Sims. The Cook County Crime Stoppers group has a number of cases the organization is following in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood.
“It’s been a tough time for me,” Galloway recalled. “The last few days, I’ve started to have some relief. I don’t know what brought the relief, but I feel optimistic that my son’s justice will be reached.”
When asked what he thinks is keeping the investigation alive, Clark said Galloway’s love of her son.
“She loves him,” Clark said, noting that the Oak Park community won’t allow the investigation to die, either. “We can’t normalize this. We have to be purposeful in our actions and keep his memory at the forefront.”
Days after Sims’ death, hundreds turned out for a community vigil at Scoville Park in Oak Park. Last year, a group gathered at Scoville Park to mark what would have been his 18th birthday.
A reward valued at $1,000 is available, and anyone with information that leads to the arrest of anyone responsible for the crime is asked to contact Cook County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-535-7867.