Tyshawn Lee was reportedly lured into a Chicago alley this week where gang members opened fire on the nine-year-old boy, killing him for what police say was retribution against the boy’s father.
The shocking killing took place Monday in the city’s Auburn Gresham neighborhood, where the boy’s grandmother lived. Police say Tyshawn was walking to that house when he joined some others in an alley, and there some gang members opened fire, striking him a number of times in the head and back.
Investigators believe that the murder was retribution against Tyshawn’s father, Pierre Stokes, who is an active gang member. They believe the killing had to do with a feud between two factions of the same gang, a rift that has led to a number of assaults in the last few months.
Stokes said he believes that his son was intentionally killed.
“If he wasn’t a target he wouldn’t have gotten hit so many times in the back and the face. I think he was a target,” said Stokes (via CBS News).
— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) November 6, 2015
Though Stokes appeared to have insight into his son’s execution, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said he was refusing to cooperate with police.
“Let me put it this way. We’ve tried to interview him at least twice,” McCarthy said. “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 with us.”
— Daily Express (@Daily_Express) November 6, 2015
McCarthy said the crime was the most shocking one he has ever seen.
“Tyshawn Lee was murdered in probably the most abhorrent, cowardly, unfathomable crime that I’ve witnessed in 35 years of policing,” the superintendent said. “We’re pretty certain that this is not an accident. He was not a bystander.”
Police said they have had a difficult time finding other witnesses to come forward, and said some people in the neighborhood may fear retribution from the gang members.
Some community members are now trying to combat these fears. Rev. Michael Pfleger, a local priest and anti-violence advocate, said he would pay to relocate any witness willing to come forward.
“What happened to Tyshawn Lee took us to a new low,” Pfleger said. “This wasn’t a drive-by. This was not a spray of bullets. A baby was executed. A baby was assassinated right behind us in this alley.”
The execution of Tyshawn Lee took place amid a seemingly unstoppable wave of violence in Chicago. For several years the city’s murder rate has exploded out of control, and The Daily Beast notes that the city is now more dangerous than even war-torn third-world countries.
West Garfield Park, population 18,000, had 21 murders last year, which makes for a homicide rate of 116 per 100,000 people. The world’s leader in murders, Honduras, has a homicide rate of 90, according to the United Nations.
Following West Garfield Park in lethality was West Englewood and its 73.3 murder rate, more than second-place Venezuela with its 53.7 rate. Chicago’s Chatham (58) beats Belize (44.7); Englewood (52.6) outdoes El Salvador (41.2); South Chicago (48) tops Guatemala (39.9). The United States as a whole has 4.5 murders per 100,000.
The killings appear to be on the rise. Between January 1 and October 25 there were 391 murders, up 18 percent from the same period the year before. Many of the dead have been children, including a seven-year-old who was killed in July by gang members who were trying to target his father, who is allegedly a gang member.
Police in Chicago said they are still searching for the suspects, and they are calling on the public to help. Investigators are offering a $35,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest in the execution killing of nine-year-old Tyshawn Lee.
[Image via Lee family/CBS News]