Community rallies around young victim after Chandler park shooting - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Community rallies around young victim after Chandler park shooting

March 12th, 2021 SanTan Sun News
Community rallies around young victim after Chandler park shooting

By Kevin Reagan
Staff Writer

Neighbors and friends of a 13-year-old boy shot by unknown assailants at a Chandler park are coming together to support the wounded victim, determine not let the violent event tarnish their peaceful community.
Everett Watson Jr. is still recovering from a severe gunshot wound sustained in his left leg after he and his brothers were ambushed by a group of young men on Feb. 21 at San Tan Park E. Frye Road.
The teenagers had been playing basketball when they were approached by three strangers who suddenly pulled out a firearm and began shooting. The suspects then fled on foot and were last seen near Cottonwood Street and Pecos Road.
Chandler police have limited information on the suspects and investigators have spent the last two weeks trying to get more witnesses to come forward with new leads to pursue.
The teen’s friends are now planning to offer a $10,000 reward for anyone with information that could lead to the apprehension of the shooters.
Jenee Komso, the teenager’s neighbor, has been organizing fundraisers to raise the reward money and is trying to do everything possible to help find the assailants.
The incident was such a random act of violence, Komso said, so the community feels compelled to do anything it can to prevent another shooting.
Somebody out there knows something, she added, and the reward money will hopefully incentivize someone to reveal the shooters’ identities.
“We don’t know if they’re from our neighborhood, we don’t know if they’re maybe from Mesa,” Komso said. “We just want to throw as wide of a net as possible and put paper flyers up everywhere.”
Shortly after the incident, friends and neighbors of the Watson family came together to hold an event at San Tan Park and asked police officers how they might prevent violence from happening again in their community.
During the event, members of the Watson family got a chance to meet some of the officers who responded to the shooting and helped get the teenager airlifted to the hospital.
Unprovoked random shootings are not common in this quiet area of Chandler, which is mostly inhabited by middle-class families and young professionals.
The park shooting has had a devastating impact on the neighborhood, Komso said, and everyone is on high alert for suspicious characters.
“Nothing like this has ever happened in our community,” Komso noted. “This is absolutely unheard of.”
As the investigation continues, Everett’s parents and five brothers have been trying to keep him comforted during his grueling recovery process.
Everett has undergone several surgeries and wound cleanings at Phoenix Children’s Hospital in an attempt to salvage his injured leg.
The bullet that pierced his thigh severed one of his arteries, which has slowed down the blood circulation in the rest of his leg. The gunshot resulted in severe tissue damage on Everett’s foot that cannot be repaired.
The teenager recently had to have his toes amputated and doctors are hoping the rest of his leg won’t have to be removed.
“It’s all very intense,” Komso said. “We’re still unclear on what his body is going to look like once he gets out of that hospital.”
Komso has accumulated about $16,000 in donations and plans to keep raising funds for Everett’s long-term rehabilitation.
Any funds not used on the $10,000 reward will be donated to Everett’s family for any medical expenses not covered by insurance.
Komso said there’s been a huge outpouring of love and support for the teen over the last couple weeks. Community members have been making meals for Everett’s siblings, crafting greeting cards and dropping off gift baskets at the hospital.
The community’s resilience in the aftermath of such extreme violence has been inspiring and uplifting, Komso added. So much so that she has a powerful message for the shooters who disrupted her neighborhood.
“This is our community, you are not taking it from us,” she said.
Anyone with information on the shooting can contact Chandler Police at 480-782-4130 or Silent Witness at 480-948-6377.