A 33-year-old Philadelphia man has been charged with murder in the 2019 shooting of a baby who, after a long fight to survive, died last month from complications from his injuries.
Francisco Ortiz was charged Tuesday in the death of Yaseem Jenkins, who was 11 months old when Ortiz allegedly shot him during an aborted drug deal in the city’s Hunting Park section.
Yaseem’s father, Nafes Monroe, brought his son along in the car when he went to buy drugs from Ortiz and attempted to use counterfeit money to pay, police said. Law enforcement officials later said Monroe may have believed that the baby’s presence would deter violence. But an argument broke out, police said, and Ortiz fired into the car multiple times, striking the child four times.
Yaseem was rushed to the hospital, where he stayed for more than a year to recover, before being discharged into a medically equipped foster home in September 2020, according to court records.
But last month, on the morning of April 19, his foster parents found Yaseem, then 3 years old, unresponsive in his crib. He was rushed to the hospital, where he died shortly after.
An autopsy determined that the boy died from complications from gunshot wounds, and the Medical Examiner’s Office ruled his death a homicide.
Yaseem’s family could not be reached Wednesday, but earlier, at a vigil for the child, they said he never lost his spirit despite his injuries. They called him “our golden child.”
“His endless fight. How many adults you know went through what he went through and survived?” asked his cousin Erica Ledwell, who spoke on behalf of the family. “He was the happiest baby you ever met in your life. He was joy.”
Ortiz has been jailed at Curran-Fromhold Corrrectional Facility since November 2019, when he was arrested for the shooting and charged with attempted murder. That charge was upgraded to murder this week, police said Wednesday. His lawyer could not be reached for comment.
Yaseem’s father, Monroe, 25, pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child and recklessly endangering another person. He was sentenced to 11½ to 23 months in jail and eight years’ probation, and is no longer in jail.
A funeral for Yaseem was held April 30. He was buried at Merion Memorial Park, in a green-and-blue casket, social media posts show, with a photo of his smiling face, ladybugs, and flowers draped over top.