‘It wasn’t just another gunshot victim’
Niece of woman killed by CTA train fatally shot over Fourth of July weekend
In the days following her sister’s heavily publicized death at a CTA Red Line stop, Brandy Martin was in a fog of grief as she fielded dozens of calls from friends, family and the media.
She began preparing for the funeral while speaking with police and the CTA. She tried to stave off a social media avalanche of mocking cruelty amid leaked video of the moments before her sister was hit by a train after she went onto the tracks to retrieve her dropped phone at the 69th Street station on June 27.
Finally, after seven days of not eating or sleeping, Martin got into bed, turned the volume low on her phone and tried to sleep.
That’s when she missed nearly three dozen calls. She would soon learn that barely a week after her sister was killed, her daughter is now dead.
Martin’s 22-year-old daughter, Akeelah Addison, was at a party celebrating the Fourth of July when a man shot her in the head just before 3 a.m. on July 5 in the 4200 block of South Wells Street in the South Side’s Fuller Park neighborhood.
“It wasn’t just another gunshot victim,” Martin said. “It was my daughter.”
Now, Martin is planning a double funeral. She is preparing to bury both her daughter and her sister after a joint ceremony on July 12. She previously started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to bury her sister, as she did not have enough to proceed on her own. On Saturday, she added her daughter’s death to the campaign.
The two were among the closest in the world to her, Martin said. The 42year-old woman was five years older than her sister, 37-year-old Felon Smith. She helped raise her younger sister when there was trouble at home. And she was beginning to experience a new, more grownup relationship with her daughter, who was her eldest.
At 22, Addison was working at a salon as a hair stylist, taking online classes and growing more independent. She was beginning to relate to her mother as an adult.
“I was developing a grown woman friendship with her,” Martin said through tears, talking on the front porch of her Marquette Park home.
Martin is going through the motions to get everything ready for the double funeral. She hopes for justice for her daughter, and for changes to protocol and training at the CTA after leaked video showed that a security guard appeared to move slowly and not to make an effort to pull Smith back up to the platform.
But she knows very few families who lose loved ones to gun violence ever see an arrest in the case. The CTA has said officials are reviewing the incident, but she doesn’t know what may come of that.
She is mostly numb, compartmentalizing the pain so she can get through the day.
“People have gotten so used to dealing with pain. I am accustomed to it,” Martin said.
Brandy Martin, sister of Felon Smith, a woman struck and killed by a train on the CTA Red Line tracks on June 27, weeps while speaking to a reporter. Martin’s 22-year-old daughter, Akeelah Addison, was shot and killed Friday.