Sat, Nov 07, 2015 - Page 7 News List

Chicago police say young victim was pawn in gang war

NY Times News Service

A nine-year-old boy who was shot to death in a Chicago alley, in one of the most notorious crimes in the city’s recent history, was the target of the shooting, not a bystander who became an accidental victim, officials said on Thursday.

The death of Tyshawn Lee, killed on Monday afternoon while walking to his grandmother’s home, was part of a war between two street gangs, and he was singled out because his father was connected to one of the gangs, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said at a news conference in the alley.

He did not say whether the shooting was in retaliation for a particular act.

“We believe that Tyshawn was targeted, lured to this spot and murdered,” McCarthy said. “We know the two groups. We know the individuals involved in both groups. And proving who did what is where we are right now.”

He said the police had spoken to some witnesses, but he appealed for more to come forward, calling the killing “probably the most abhorrent, cowardly, unfathomable crime that I’ve witnessed in 35 years of policing.”

The boy’s father, Pierre Stokes, told the Chicago Tribune that his son’s death had nothing to do with him. No one had a motive to harm him, he said, and if anyone did, he was easy enough to find; there was no need to hurt Tyshawn.

Asked if Stokes was helping investigators, McCarthy said: “No. In fact, let me put it this way — I can’t even tell you what he said because you can’t say it on TV, but he made it emphatically clear that he’s not cooperating.”

McCarthy confirmed reports that detectives had tried to question “a person of interest” in the shooting early on Thursday, but that the individual, who was accompanied by a lawyer, refused to say anything and was released.

He did not say how the boy had been lured to his death, or what evidence led to the conclusion that he was the target.

Tyshawn had finished his day at Scott Joplin Elementary School, in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood on the city’s South Side, and was walking with his basketball when he was shot multiple times.

Even in a city accustomed to hearing of violent crimes, the killing of a child in public, in daylight, particularly if that child was the target, has struck a nerve.

Police officials and the anti-violence campaigners who joined them on Thursday said the shooting had crossed a line.

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