Nine-year-old Tyshawn Lee was the victim of a horrific murder that shocked, saddened and outraged our city four years ago.
Chicago should never forget that. But we must also remember Tyshawn Lee as a fourth-grade boy with a lifetime of promise ahead.
He was a victim of gang violence. He could have been much more.
Look at Tyshawn’s bright-eyed, smiling face, in family photos that have appeared over and over in news accounts of his murder and the trials of his accused killers.
It’s easy to see a child’s trusting innocence and promising future. It jumps out at you.
We imagine Tyshawn heading to school or church in those freshly-pressed shirts, with the little boy’s tie and the matching pocket handkerchief.
We imagine the future he should have had — high school, college, a job, a family. He might have fallen in love. He might have had his heart broken, in the good way that’s a part of life. He might have had children of his own.
Tyshawn’s murderer robbed him of that future and took advantage of his trust and innocence. Dwright Boone-Doty bounced a basketball with him in a park and promised him candy, luring Tyshawn into an alley and shooting him several times, point-blank.
Jurors convicted Boone-Doty, 25, and an accomplice, Corey Morgan, 31, of first-degree murder on Friday.
Remember Tyshawn, too, as a loving child who often showed up at his grandmother’s house after school, looking for some of her home cooking. Just what you’d expect from a 9-year-old.
On a warm November day in 2015, Tyshawn showed up, as usual.
“I love you, Grandmama,” he said before running off to play basketball at Dawes Park in Auburn Gresham.
“I love you too, Tyshawn,” his grandmother, Bertha Lee, replied.
“I’ll be back,” Tyshawn told her.
“He never came home,” Lee said in court at Boone-Doty’s trial.
We cannot imagine her heartbreak, or the heartbreak of the rest of Tyshawn’s family. They lost a 9-year-old, in the worst imaginable way.
A 9-year-old who was just trying to be a regular kid in a violent world.
According to police, Tyshawn was killed as part of a seemingly never-ending cycle of gang violence and retribution. His father belonged to one gang and was allegedly involved in the murder of Morgan’s brother. So Tyshawn was targeted by Boone-Doty and Morgan.
In the “code of the street,” families of rival gang members, especially children, were once off-limits for retaliatory killings. Tyshawn’s murder signaled the end of that code.
Boone-Doty, in fact, bragged openly about killing Tyshawn to a jailhouse informant.
“Ain’t no age, period. Eight to 80,” he was heard saying on secretly recorded tapes.
That’s the violent world that Tyshawn had to navigate.
So many children still must navigate it, every day.
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