On July 4, Amari Brown ended a day of holiday celebrations at his grandmother's house with some fireworks in Chicago's Humboldt Park. But Brown ended up as a statistic -- one of nine dead and 53 injured in a spate of violence over the weekend.
Near midnight, Amari, 7, and his father, Antonio, were standing on the sidewalk when someone started shooting around him. Until his son cried out, Antonio had no idea the sounds were gunshots and not fireworks, NBC Chicago reported.
"He was just down. He wasn't crying, he was speaking 'Daddy, daddy,' " Brown said, the Chicago Tribune reported. "I picked him up and put him in the car. I was in the back seat, I was talking to him the whole time. I was like, 'You cool, I know you cool.' "
The bullet may have been meant for Antonio.
Amari, called a "jokester" by his family, was hit in the right side of his chest. Another woman, 26, was also injured, but survived. Amari was pronounced dead a couple hours later at the hospital, one of nine to succumb over the weekend.
The boy's grandmother, Vida Hailey, 52, was incredulous when she spoke to My Fox Chicago about her grandson's death.
"It's crazy. Like who would shoot a 7-year-old? He got shot in the chest. Who would do that? To a baby? All the kids that are getting killed out here – it's crazy. When is it going to stop?"Local reports indicate that his father is a "ranking gang member" and had been arrested 45 times. He was reportedly was not cooperating with police as they tried to figure out who shot his son. So far, a suspect hasn't been identified.
Local reports indicated that many of this weekend's shootings are connected to Chicago's gangs. Last year's Fourth of July weekend was even more bloody, with 67 people shot and 11 dead.
Violence often peaks in the city during the holiday.
Another apparently innocent bystander caught in the cross-fire was a teen killed while playing basketball. Vonzell Banks, 17 and a high school junior, was with his older brother, Vinny, and his friends when he was shot in the early evening, his aunt, LaShanda Childs, told the Chicago Sun Times.
"He was a loving child, getting ready to be a senior at high school. He was going to start a summer job on Monday. He was very excited about it."Active in church, Vonzell was also a talented drummer.
According to NBC, a car approached the group and someone inside began shooting. But police say that the boy wasn't the intended target.
Also perishing in this weekend's violence were a pair of brothers, 25 and 31, who were sitting in their car when someone walked up and opened fire, a man killed on his porch, and another in an alley. Most of the shootings involved multiple victims, and reports indicate that many of them were gang members or the violence gang-related.
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