The mother of a 1-year-old boy might have been the target of a shooting that critically wounded her infant son Thursday as the boy sat in an SUV on the Far South Side, police said.
Detectives initially suspected the shooting might have been a case of mistaken identity, but an investigation led police officials to change course and say the attack did not appear to be random.
“We feel that she may have been the intended target,” said Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.
Police also released an image of a car officials believe was used in the shooting.
The boy’s mom in a Facebook post Friday evening wrote that she was upset for seemingly being blamed for the shooting in news accounts.
“Blaming me cause [I don’t] wanna talk to the news,” she wrote. “Wow how could y’all stoop that low.”
In earlier posts, she asked friends to “pray for my baby, please,” and lamented, “How could y’all? He was so sweet.”
The boy was identified by family as Dejohn Irving. His nickname was Chase.
“He was walking, he was a fun, he was a fun baby,” Dejohn’s grandfather, Melvin Freeman,told reporters Friday outside the emergency room at Comer Children’s Hospital. “He made your day.”
Dejohn’s grandmother was in the driver’s seat of an SUV with the boy and other children about 5:30 p.m. in the 9900 block of South Throop, in the Longwood Manor neighborhood. She told police she had stopped in front of a family member’s house when she heard shots ring out and windows shatter. She looked back to find her grandson shot in the head.
She drove the infant to Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park before he was transferred to Comer Children’s Hospital, where he was initially listed in critical condition, police said.The other family members in the SUV were not hurt.
Family were seen gathering inside the emergency room Thursday.
“Our babies are dying,” Freeman said. “We need to stop doing this, could we please put these guns down and let these babies live?”
Andrew Holmes, a community activist speaking on behalf of the family, said later Friday that the boy remained in “very, very critical condition” and on life support. Holmes said family members were with Dejohn upstairs in the hospital.
He begged any witnesses to come forward with information.
“Let’s help this baby. Let’s bring these perpetrators in,” he said.
Guglielmi told the Sun-Times that investigators initially thought the shooter might have had the wrong target. After looking into the mother’s background, detectives learned that the gunman may have been aiming for her.
Guglielmi stressed that the family has been cooperative with the ongoing investigation.
Police said a search of nearby traffic and surveillance cameras had not led to a break in the investigation, and detectives are looking for a better description of the car and information about where it was headed.Police were initially told the gunshots came from a dark, older model car.
“We’re really pressing for public information,” Guglielmi said. “This is a 1-year-old so it’s galvanized the attention of the city.”
Rewards approach $35,000
A reward for information that leads to an arrest in the shooting increased to at least $34,500 after a $10,000 pledge by South Side Pastor Corey Brooks and another $10,000 from Rev. Anthony Williamsof the First Congregational Church of Berwyn
“As a father who lost a son to gun violence in February last year, I’m not new to this issue. Violence is the number one issue of the 21st Century, and it’s not being properly addressed. We need to address it with [state] legislation.”
Another $13,500 had been raised by a group of pastors, activists and musicians, including St. Sabina Rev. Michael Pfleger. Activist Ja’Mal Green pledged another $1,000.
The flyer for the reward, which featured a picture of the boy, read: “Break the code of silence. Speak up for me.”
Witnesses are urged to submit tips to cpdtip.com as Area South detectives investigate.
Contributing: Matthew Hendrickson