Teen charged in fatal shooting of 7-year-old boy on Near West Side: 'There is no excuse for this violence'

A 16-year-old boy shot Jai’mani Amir Rivera Tuesday afternoon near the child’s apartment complex in the 2300 block of West Jackson Boulevard, police say.

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Mourners gather for a balloon release and vigil Wednesday for 7-year-old Jai’mani Amir Rivera on Jackson Boulevard near Western Avenue, about 24 hours after the boy was shot to death on the sidewalk outside an apartment complex on the Near West Side.

Mourners gather for a balloon release and vigil Wednesday for 7-year-old Jai’mani Amir Rivera on Jackson Boulevard near Western Avenue, about 24 hours after the boy was shot to death.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Chicago’s top cop announced Friday evening that a teenager has been charged in the daytime killing of a 7-year-old boy earlier this week on the Near West Side.

The 16-year-old was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting of Jai’mani Amir Rivera around 3 p.m. Tuesday near the younger boy’s apartment complex in the 2300 block of West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago Police Supt. Larry Snelling told reporters.

Jai’mani was leaving home when he was struck in his chest by gunfire that came from outside the complex, according to Chicago police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office. Responding officers rendered aid to the boy and rushed him to Stroger Hospital in a squad car, but he was pronounced dead a short time later.

Police investigate the fatal shooting Tuesday afternoon of a 7-year-old  boy outside an apartment complex in the 2300 block of West Jackson Boulevard.

Police investigate the fatal shooting Tuesday afternoon of 7-year-old Jai’mani Amir Rivera outside his home in the 2300 block of West Jackson Boulevard.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

The teen suspect was taken into custody Thursday in the 1800 block of West Monroe Street, just blocks from the shooting scene. He was charged as an adult and was wanted on two warrants at the time of his arrest, police said. A detention hearing was set for Saturday.

“Jai’mani’s life was taken from him,” Snelling said during a news conference at police headquarters. “For what? There is no excuse for this violence.”

Surveillance video showed the shooter opening fire about 300 feet away from Jai’mani, who wasn’t the intended target, Chief of Detectives Antionette Ursitti said, adding that 13 rifle casings were recovered at the scene.

Mayor Brandon Johnson previously indicated the weapon used in the attack was illegal.

“These killings tear at the very fabric of our society, shatter families, leave our neighborhoods shaken and our city in mourning,” Johnson said in a statement. “Nothing can ever replace the loss of a child, and I hope Jai’Mani’s family finds some measure of closure in the apprehension and charging of the alleged offender today.”

Mourners gather for a balloon release and vigil for 7-year-old Jai’Mani Amir Rivera on West Jackson Boulevard near South Western Avenue, about 24 hours after the boy was shot to death on the sidewalk outside a nearby apartment complex on the Near West Side, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Mourners gather for a balloon release and vigil Wednesday for 7-year-old Jai’Mani Amir Rivera on West Jackson Boulevard near South Western Avenue, about 24 hours after the boy was shot to death on the sidewalk outside a nearby apartment complex on the Near West Side.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

At a vigil Wednesday near the shooting scene, more than 100 people gathered to remember Jai’mani and call for action.

His aunt, Vanessa Rivera, described him as outgoing and said he had just gotten a jersey for the upcoming football season with the number he wanted: seven. “All I ask for is justice,” she said.

A reward for information leading to the suspect’s identification totaled at least $16,000. By Thursday, police said a person of interest was in custody.

The fatal shooting came in the wake of a violent Father’s Day weekend that left 72 people wounded, including a 13-year-old boy who was killed in North Lawndale.

Earlier this week, Snelling said 172 juveniles were victims of gun violence this year. Jai’mani is the eighth child age 15 or younger to have been shot to death this year, according to Sun-Times homicide data.

“It’s unfortunate that a mother and a father, who are doing what they are supposed to do for their 7-year-old and raising their child, that their child can’t even walk out to the sidewalk without being struck by random gunfire,” Snelling said earlier this week.

A GoFundMe campaign set up by Jai’mani’s family had raised more than $28,000 of a $50,000 goal by Friday evening.

Mayor Brandon Johnson and Chicago Police Supt. Larry Snelling at a press conference following the fatal shooting of 7-year-old Jai'Mani Amir Rivera.

Mayor Brandon Johnson and Chicago Police Supt. Larry Snelling at a press conference following the fatal shooting of 7-year-old Jai’Mani Amir Rivera.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

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