Cops: Possible that slain boy, 9, was targeted – Chicago Tribune

A 9-year-old boy was shot to death just doors from his grandmother’s house in the Gresham neighborhood Monday, and police said they could not rule out that he was targeted.

A basketball that Tyshawn Lee took to school every day was found near his body in the 8000 block of South Damen Avenue, a block of brick bungalows, said his grandmother, Bertha Lee.

“I saw the body in the alley, he was lying in blood,” Lee said. “But I didn’t see his face.”

The boy was in an alley with “an unknown number of individuals” about 4:15 p.m. when an argument broke out, someone fired shots and everyone scattered, said Chief of Detectives Dean Andrews.

The boy suffered several gunshot wounds to his upper body. “It’s unclear if this was a targeted incident or a tragic case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Andrews said.

Tyshawn was pronounced dead at 4:39 p.m., not far from his grandmother’s home in the 2000 block of West 80th Place.

Lee said Tyshawn was on his way to her house, and his mother was going to pick him up later. Lee started wondering where he was, and a relative said there had been a shooting in the alley. Shortly afterward, the relative said Tyshawn had been shot.

“I said ‘no,’ they said ‘yes,’ ” Lee said, shaking her head as she leaned against a car outside Dawes Park down the block from her home. “Then I came and sulked.”

Tyshawn attended Scott Joplin Elementary School, liked Nintendo and loved to play basketball. “He takes the basketball to school every morning,” Lee said.

The boy’s mother, Karla Lee, said her son had dreams of playing in the NBA. She said he told her: “Mom, when I get older I’m going to take care of you, I’m going to get you a new house.”

“He was going to make me real proud of him. I believed every word my son said,” Karla Lee said.

“He’s a good kid. He didn’t deserve that, he didn’t deserve that,” she said through tears. “Emotions? They’re gone. I don’t have my baby no more.”

Raynetta Tyler, 39, was pumping gas at a Citgo station at 79th Street and Damen when she heard two gunshots.

She saw a few police officers pass her on bicycles, followed by squad cars with their blue lights flashing. Some of the cars cut through a gas station parking lot to speed to the scene.

Tyler, a mother of a 13-year-old son, rushed to the scene, fearful the victim was one of her relatives. This was the second wave of gunshots she heard in the last few weeks.

On Oct. 18, 19-year-old Brianna Jenkins was shot and killed near 79th Street and Honore Avenue — near Tyler’s home — as Jenkins sat in a car with a 20-year-old man who was wounded and survived.

“This is not normal. This is sad. Our kids want to grow up too,” said Tyler, standing behind a parked squad car.

Another neighbor said she couldn’t believe a child had been shot in her neighborhood.

“It was a shock that a child got shot and killed, that’s a disgrace,” said a neighbor who did not give her name.

The woman said she was in her backyard when she began hearing police and ambulance sirens. She said she watched as police seemed to focus on an abandoned building near where the child was shot.

“The police were in and out of the building like they were searching for someone,” she said.

Police said they were checking for any surveillance video and called on anyone with information to come forward.

Two churches were offering rewards: $1,000 from St. Andrew’s and $5,000 from St. Sabina.

Check back for updates.

Chicago Tribune’s Peter Nickeas contributed.

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