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Teen killed in Harvey was brother of Ryan Harris, 11-year-old girl slain in 1998

Ryan Harris in undated family photo.

Bryan Harris, the 19-year-old brother of an 11-year-old Englewood girl raped and murdered in an infamous 1998 case, was one of two teens killed in a shoot-out at a south-suburban convenience store Tuesday, Harvey spokesman Sean Howard said.

Bryan Harris was the brother of Ryan Harris, whose rape and murder sparked a national outcry after two young boys were arrested only to later be released.

On Tuesday, an “exchange of words” between two groups of men escalated into an exchange of gunfire around 10:30 p.m. at the Express Drive Thru Food Mart, 14620 S. Halsted Street in Harvey, Howard said.

Harvey police investigate a shooting about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, August 14, 2018 in the 14600 block of South Halsted Avenue in Harvey. | Justin Jackson/ Sun-Times
Harvey police investigate a shooting about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, August 14, 2018 in the 14600 block of South Halsted Avenue in Harvey. | Justin Jackson/ Sun-Times

Bryan Harris and 17-year old Taijean Hall died in the shootout. Police are looking for two suspects who left the scene in a black Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Video by Rahul Parikh

Members of Hall’s family joined Harvey Mayor Eric Kellogg and the city’s police chief Gregory Thomas Wednesday with a plea for peace and for the culprits to turn themselves in.

“I never thought I’d be up here,” Courtney Hall, Hall’s father said. “We’re suffering a tremendous loss.”

Taijean Hall, 17, right, and his father, Courtney Hall. | courtesy Courtney Hall
Taijean Hall, 17, right, and his father, Courtney Hall. | courtesy Courtney Hall

At least five people were involved in the Tuesday shooting and police recovered three handguns on the scene.

Thomas said the shooting was part of a trend plaguing the south suburban city in recent weeks. Teens and other young people are stealing vehicles or license plates to use in crimes, sometimes leading to police chases.

The Jeep used in the shooting was reported stolen from a nearby suburb, Thomas said.

Video by Rahul Parikh

There’s also been a trend of conflicts playing out on social media, a trend this shooting also fits, authorities said. Thomas said the intelligence arm of the department was trying to determine how much of a role the online feud played in the shooting.

Ryan Harris’ body was found in July of 1998, a day after her family reported her missing. The case created a furor when two boys, ages 7 and 8, were initially charged with Ryan’s murder. Prosecutors dropped the charges after tests detected semen at the scene.

Floyd Durr, then 29, is serving a life sentence for the murder.

Ryan Harris. Photo courtesy of WMAQ-TV.
Ryan Harris. Photo courtesy of WMAQ-TV.

Sabrina Harris has continued to mark the memory of her daughter, working to rename and refurbish an Englewood park in her honor within a few blocks of the spot where she died. In 2006, she protested against a plea deal that protected Durr from the death penalty.

In 2012, Sabrina Harris, other family members, and neighborhood residents gathered in the park for the 14th anniversary of Ryan Harris’s death.

“I’m so overwhelmed with a lot of the shootings that are happening in our community. And all these deaths, they need to stop,” Sabrina Harris said at the time.

Sabrina Harris could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Sabrina Harris, mother of the late Ryan Harris, fights back tears before the 2:30 P.M. balloon release in honor of her daughter during the Englewood Pride Day, Ryan Harris Picnic. Saturday, July 28, 2012. | Sun-Times File photo
Sabrina Harris, mother of the late Ryan Harris, fights back tears before the 2:30 P.M. balloon release in honor of her daughter during the Englewood Pride Day, Ryan Harris Picnic. Saturday, July 28, 2012. | Sun-Times File photo