Nykea Aldridge, a cousin of the NBA star Dwyane Wade, was shot and killed in Chicago on Friday, while pushing her baby in a stroller near a school where she intended to register her children.
On Twitter, Wade lamented what he called another “act of senseless gun violence” which meant “4 kids lost their mom for NO REASON”.
On Saturday, also on Twitter, Donald Trump appeared to attempt to use the death of Aldridge, 32, to make a political point. In doing so, the Republican presidential candidate spelled the basketball star’s name wrong.
“Dwayne [sic] Wade’s cousin was just shot and killed walking her baby in Chicago,” Trump wrote. “Just what I have been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!”
Trump’s tweet caused an angry backlash on social media but was not immediately taken down or retracted. He later tweeted the same message with Wade’s first name spelled correctly, and deleted the original message.
Later still, he tweeted: “My condolences to Dwyane Wade and his family, on the loss of Nykea Aldridge. They are in my thoughts and prayers.”
Wade did not immediately respond directly to Trump’s words, tweeting instead: “RIP Nykea Aldridge … #EnoughIsEnough”. He added: “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! These young kids are screaming for help!!!”
Aldridge had recently relocated to an area on the city’s south side, her family said. On Friday, she was near the school when two males fired shots at a third man but hit Aldridge in the head and arm. She was not the intended target, police said. Police were questioning witnesses but had no suspects in custody.
Wade, a native of Chicago who signed with the Chicago Bulls in July after 13 years with the Miami Heat, posted on Twitter: “My cousin was killed today in Chicago. Another act of senseless gun violence. 4 kids lost their mom for NO REASON. Unreal. #EnoughIsEnough.”
Chicago has been plagued by gun violence for years, especially in some south and west side neighborhoods. This July there were 65 homicides – the most in that month since 2006.
Wade’s charitable organization, Wade’s World Foundation, works in community outreach in the Chicago area. A day earlier, he had participated via satellite in a town hall meeting in the city on gun violence hosted by ESPN, along with his mother, pastor Jolinda Wade.
Outside the emergency room where Aldridge was pronounced dead, Jolinda Wade clutched her sister and spoke for the family as mourners stood in a circle holding hands and praying. She said she had participated in the town hall meeting “never knowing that the next day we would be the ones that would actually be living and experiencing it”.
My cousin was killed today in Chicago. Another act of senseless gun violence. 4 kids lost their mom for NO REASON. Unreal. #EnoughIsEnough
— DWade (@DwyaneWade) August 27, 2016
“We’re still going to try to help and empower people like the one who senselessly shot my niece in the head,” Jolinda Wade said. “We’re going to try to help these people to transform their minds and give them a different direction.”
It is not the first time Dwyane Wade’s family in Chicago has been affected by gun violence. His nephew, Darin Johnson, was shot twice in the leg on the south side in 2012; he recovered.
Family members are caring for Aldridge’s baby, who was not hurt.
Chicago recorded 381 homicides by the end of July, up 30% from the same period in 2015. Its murder rate is higher than that of the more populous cities of New York and Los Angeles.
Trump has recently made a succession of appeals to African American voters, among whom polls have given him as little as 0% support. On 22 August, in a speech in Akron, Ohio, he said: “You can go to war zones in countries that we are fighting and it’s safer than living in some of our inner cities that are run by the Democrats.
“And I ask you this, I ask you this – crime, all of the problems – to the African Americans, who I employ so many, so many people, to the Hispanics, tremendous people: what the hell do you have to lose?”