Man who found 9-year-old: ‘Who could shoot a child down like that?’
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Chicago police are investigating whether a 9-year-old boy shot repeatedly at close range and killed was “lured and targeted” as part of a series of retaliatory gang killings, a law enforcement source said Tuesday.
A Chicago Police source said Tyshawn Lee, who was killed Monday, is related to a gang member who may have been involved in a series of retaliatory killings.
The Chicago Tribune reported that police are investigating whether Tyshawn “was killed in retaliation for his father’s alleged role in a gang rivalry.”
The father, Pierre Stokes, told the Tribune he thinks his son was targeted but denied anyone had reason to kill Tyshawn in order to retaliate against him. “I’m not hard to find,” Stokes told the Tribune in an interview Tuesday night.
On Oct. 13, a parolee, Tracey Morgan, was killed and his mother was wounded in West Chatham when the car they were in was fired on after he left a meeting in which police and others encourage gang members to avoid violence.
On Oct. 18, a rival 20-year-old gang member was wounded and 19-year-old Briana Jenkins was killed while they sat in a car in Auburn-Gresham.
The source said Tyshawn has a relative in the same gang as the 20-year-old victim and the boy may have been “lured and targeted” in retaliation for Morgan’s killing.
The source said police are also investigating whether other shootings in the neighborhood might be linked to the Tyshawn’s killing. The source emphasized that police are seeking information from people in the neighborhood to flesh out those leads.
Tyshawn was shot in an alley in the 8000 block of South Damen at 4:15 p.m. Monday.
He lived in the 2000 block of West 80th Street and was pronounced dead at the scene at 4:39 p.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
The boy’s killing continued to reverberate throughout the neighborhood Tuesday.
Almost 24 hours after the shooting, one man couldn’t shake the image of the dead child still in his head.
“I walked around the front and looked at him. His eyes were open. He had a gunshot to the head. I knew he was gone,” said a man who agreed to be identified by his first name, Ben.
He said he lives adjacent to the alley the boy was murdered, and said he discovered the boy’s body.
Ben said he was watching TV, when he heard what sounded like firecrackers. In fact, they were gunshots — four or five of them.
“Maybe three or four minutes later, I heard someone screaming, ‘Call an ambulance! Call an ambulance!’”
Ben ran out into the alley to find Tyshawn, a boy he didn’t know, crumpled on the ground, he said.
Ben said he felt like he was looking at a much younger version of his now-grown son.
“Who could shoot a child down like that — like he was garbage?” Ben said, with disgust.
That disgust was shared by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who addressed the slaying after announcing a new hotel project near Midway Airport.
“The police department is following a number of leads,” Emanuel said, before pausing for some time to collect himself.
“Whoever did this — I believe fundamentally in the goodness of human nature, but there is evil in the world,” Emanuel said.
“Whoever did this, there is a special place for them. I hope they never see freedom, I hope they never see daylight, and I think anybody who knows who this is, you don’t have a financial reward, you have a moral responsibility. This person is not an individual, they’re not a human being. Because when you do what you’ve done to a 9-year-old, there’s a place for you, and there is no humanity in that place.”
People from Auburn Gresham and surrounding communities fanned out around the murder site Tuesday, passing out fliers that offered a reward to help find Tyshawn’s killer or killers.
Pastor Andrew Gibson of Vernon Baptist Church in Woodlawn was among them.
“We want to let people know that we care,” Gibson said. “Everybody — all lives matter. We stand behind (Tyshawn’s) family. We stand behind this neighborhood. And we’re standing behind this community.”
Rev. Michael Pfleger also was passing out fliers, hoping to find Tyshawn’s killer — a slaying the South Side preacher said he believes was targeted.
“This is not a stray bullet, not a drive-by — this is multiple gunshots to a child and only that one person shot,” Pfleger said. “There’s no question that this is targeted and that it’s an execution.”
Contributing: Frank Main, Fran Spielman