Nine-year-old Tyshawn Lee shot to death in Chicago alley

By ASHLEY FANTZ and BILL KIRKOS, CNN Additional reporting by NAYABA ARINDE Amsterdam News Editor | 11/5/2015, 11:30 a.m.
A 9-year-old boy was shot and killed Monday in Chicago, and police say it isn’t clear whether the child was ...
Tyshawn Lee Facebook

A 9-year-old boy was shot and killed Monday in Chicago, and police say it isn’t clear whether the child was targeted or was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“Chicago is in an omni-class state of emergency,” the Rev. Jesse Jackson told the Amsterdam News. “Our appeal for help is being ignored. We asked the White House for a conference on violence and development. The response has been more police, which is containment. We need development.”

Tyshawn Lee loved to play basketball and video games. Monday, he was in an alley in the Gresham neighborhood, according to Chicago police. Witnesses said an argument broke out and that’s when the boy was shot.

Lee was hit multiple times in his upper body and died in the street.

Investigators haven’t been able to discern a motive for the slaying, Chicago police detective Dean Andrews said at a news conference, adding, “We will be working around the clock to find out more.”

Police: Lee was intended target

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said Thursday that Lee was the intended target in the gang-related shooting. He was "lured" into the alley where he was killed. Two people suspected in the shooting belong to two gangs known to officials.

Visibly distraught, the boy’s mother, Karla Lee, spoke to reporters Tuesday. She asked anyone with any information about the shooting to step forward. She held a photograph of her son and a football.

“Please put the guns down, please,” Lee begged between tears. “I’m only 26. This is my only baby.”

A small memorial with stuffed animals and a basketball appeared in the alley where the boy was killed.

As detectives canvassed the area and interviewed neighbors, saddened and outraged residents were determined to do what they could. Some handed out fliers asking anyone with information about Lee’s killer to contact police. The flier said a reward would be given.

Crisis responder Dawn Valenti told reporters that donations for that reward had reached $20,000 as of Tuesday evening.

Lee’s death happened on the same day Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton met in Chicago with parents whose African-American children have died in shootings. Those who participated included Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin; Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice; Lesley McSpadden, mother of Michael Brown; Maria Hamilton, mother of Dontre Hamilton; and Joy McCormack, mother of Francisco “Frankie” Valencia.

The Clinton campaign noted that in the meeting, the presidential candidate and family members “spotlighted two key issues: the epidemic of gun violence, which demands common sense gun reforms, and the sense of distrust that too often exists between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Hillary and the family members discussed the need to deliver real reforms that can be felt on our streets and that can rebuild the bonds of trust in our communities.”

Clinton acknowledged, her campaign stated, “that we continue to face real problems of systemic racism and injustice.”

Clinton said, “We have allowed our criminal justice system to get out of balance.”

The candidate said that should she be elected, she “believes that we can have common-sense gun reforms that keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the violently unstable, including background checks for online sales and closing the gun show and Charleston loophole.”

The Chicago Tribune allows readers to compare violence in each neighborhood and updates shooting incident data several times a week. As of Tuesday, 2,578 had been shot since Jan. 1. That’s compared with 2,587 who were shot between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2014.

September was the deadliest month since 2002 for gun violence, the newspaper reported. The city recorded 60 homicides that month.

Filmmaker Spike Lee has popularized the unfortunate moniker “Chi-Raq” in describing the murder madness of the rugged city.

“This is an emergency,” is the opening line of the trailer of his movie “Chi-Raq.” “Homicides in Chicago, Illinois, have surpassed the death toll of American Special Forces in Iraq”

Jackson called the rate of shootings staggering. “We appeal to the White House because the governor is in indifferent, and the mayor is overwhelmed and ineffective,” he said.

Jackson added that exacerbating the crisis is a fact that murderers are left to murder again because “the capture rate is low because of police/community tensions.”

In helping to battle the epidemic, Jackson said, “Mothers have to march, not just mourn.”