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You’ve probably heard that a 9-year-old boy who was minding his business, walking with his beloved basketball, headed to his grandmother’s home in the Gresham neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, was gunned down on Monday. Shot multiple times, including in the head and back, in an alley where a group of people were reportedly gathered, Tyshawn Lee died on the scene. He was not far from his grandmother’s house. Early reports made it seem as though he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But police now believe that Lee was actually lured into that alley, targeted because of his father’s reported gang ties. Ties that the father has not confirmed and will reportedly not be “forthcoming” about in an attempt to find Lee’s killer.

According to the Chicago Tribune, officials believe that Lee was killed because of disputes between the Gangster Disciples and the Black P Stones, two very old and well-known gangs in the city. Lee’s father, Pierre Stokes, is reportedly a member of the Gangster Disciples and police say that a faction of the Black P Stones targeted the boy because of his father’s possible involvement in two violent situations, including the slaying of a Black P Stone member and the wounding of that individual’s mother.

And while police say that they have been flooded with calls from people in Gresham (side note: there is a $35,000 reward for info leading to the killer’s arrest), they need more.

“We’re pretty certain that we know exactly how it occurred,” said Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. “We know when it occurred. We’re pretty certain that we even know the individuals involved. But we need a little bit more to make sure that (an arrest) happens.”

But Lee’s father said he doesn’t have that information. And even though he does believe his son was targeted and feels somewhat at fault because he wasn’t there to protect Lee, he doesn’t think the attack was because of him. In fact, Stokes told the Chicago Tribune earlier this week that no one would need to go after his son if they had issues with him because the 25-year-old said, “I’m not hard to find.”

“I don’t think it was no retaliation because I never did nothing to — for nobody to hurt my son,” Stokes said during CPD’s news conference yesterday. And in the previous Tribune interview, Stokes said he was bothered by the fact that the police seem to be so interested in him, his whereabouts and connections.

“They’re more worried about me. Why are you worried about me, not the killer? I’m not the killer. Worry about the killer.”

As for possible suspects, a person of interest was brought in to be questioned, but they came with a lawyer and were released at some point between late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. So police are still taking calls, looking for the right lead to make an arrest.

As for Lee’s mother, Karla Lee, she has been making pleas to the public through a GoFundMe page set up by a friend, and via a tearful Facebook message, to help her pay for her son’s burial. Sadly, in that message, she told people that “I just never knew I was going to have bury my son this early.”

And that is the craziest thing about all of this. Not that she would have to bury her son, in general, but that she wasn’t ready to bury him so soon. And that’s a testament to how crazy things are getting in certain parts of the city of Chicago where gang violence and affiliation is widespread. People don’t know what to expect anymore, or how to keep their children safe. They just hope to have them around for as long as possible, and that breaks my heart. The recent string of shootings that have taken the lives of young children, and the increase in shootings, in general, are yet another reason people feel so hopeless in these situations. Where there is hopelessness, there is lawlessness.

And as someone who grew up near the South Side and has family and friends who live there, these stories, though heartbreaking, have become all too common. No one can say what exactly Pierre Stokes does and doesn’t know about who may or may not be behind the murder of his son, and only the coward behind the gun can confirm why it was done. But as someone so sick and tired of these God-awful headlines about innocent babies losing their lives in melees that have nothing to do with them, someone needs to go down for this and fast. Stokes needs to call any and everyone out for his son’s blood being shed on the street–in an alley near a dumpster at that. People, in general, need to talk in the hopes of not just helping Lee’s family find justice and closure but to protect their own children. Something has to be done. If not for everyone, at least to look out for the kids.


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