A 39-year-old man has been charged with murder after allegedly shooting dead a nine-year-old boy while he was playing with his friends in a Chicago parking lot.
Darrell Johnson, of Brighton Park, was arrested in Chatham, in the city’s South Side on Sunday, over the fatal shooting of Janari Andre Ricks on Friday.
Police say Johnson approached Ricks and several other people outside in the Cabrini Green neighborhood on the Near North Side around 6pm, before opening fire in their direction.
The boy had been playing in a parking lot not far from his home at the time of the shooting. Police said he was an unintended target.
Janari was struck multiple times, including in the chest. The first responding officers performed CPR until the Chicago Fire Department arrived.
He was then taken to Lurie Children’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Chicago Police on Monday praised the community for helping them track down the suspect.
‘We’re not able to arrest the suspect unless the community comes forward and actually helps us. In this case they did. We were able to make a speedy arrest,’ CPD Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said in a press conference.
Johnson did not live in the Cabrini Green neighborhood, and nor did his intended target, police said.
‘He [Janari] was shot and killed while doing what every child in our city should be able to do without a second thought,’ Police Superintendent David Brown said.
‘He was playing with friends on a warm summer evening just outside his front door.’
The boy’s father, Raymond Ricks, described his son as a ‘basketball fanatic’ who was about to enter the fourth grade.
‘It’s just crazy. My boy, he’s gone; that was my inspiration, that was my truth,’ he said. ‘He wanted to play basketball. He was just a basketball fanatic.’
Janari’s mother Jalissa Ford told CBS Chicago she gave her son permission to go outside and play, only for him to never return home.
He was a remembered as a stellar math student who was on his way to the gifted program at school.
Janari’s death marks the fifth time a child 10 years or younger was shot dead in the city this year.
‘I’m not mad at nobody. I just need answers on why. When is it going to stop?’ Ford said.
Before an arrest was made, community activist Andrew Holmes had urged the shooter to turn himself in and a $4,000 reward was being offered for information leading to the arrest of the gunman.
‘I’m reaching out to his mother, his father, his family. Turn your loved one in because, guess what, this king is gone. This baby is gone,’ Holmes said.
The incident marked the end to Chicago’s deadliest month in 28 years, during which nine people were killed by gun violence and 25 were wounded.
A Wall Street Journal analysis of crime statistics of the nation’s 50 largest cities found that reported homicides were up 24 per cent so far this year, to 3,612, with Chicago – the worst-hit – accounting for more than one of every eight homicides.
The month of July saw a 139 per cent jump in murders in Chicago, compared to the same month last year.
From January 1 through the end of July, there were 440 homicides in Chicago and 2,240 people were shot – a number that includes those killed.
That compares to 290 homicides and 1,480 shootings in Chicago in the same period last year.
President Donald Trump recently announced he was sending federal agents to cities including Chicago, as part of what he calls Operation Legend to help local authorities fight such crime.
The 150 agents in Chicago will mostly focus on assisting police with gun, drug and gang cases, according to Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
She promised that the troops would not use controversial tactics deployed in Portland, Oregon – where protesters were snatched from the streets.
Among those to die this weekend was a well-known student leader in a youth activist group that has been prominent in the push to remove police from Chicago Public Schools.
Caleb Reed, 17, died on Sunday morning after he was shot two days earlier in the West Rogers Park neighborhood.
He was described by his local alderman as ‘a light in our community’.
Reed was found lying on a sidewalk about 1pm on Friday in the 1900 block of West Granville Avenue.
He had been shot in the head and was taken to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, where he was pronounced dead on Sunday at 6.40am.
Eight others besides Ricks and the boy died in gun violence over the weekend, between 5pm on Friday and 5am on Monday morning.
The final victim of the bloody weekend was pronounced dead on Sunday afternoon.
That victim, a 38-year-old man, died in a drive-by shooting in the Englewood district, on the South Side of the city.
Earlier that morning two 28-year-old men were found dead after a shooting in Lawndale on the West Side.
Demarcus Wiggins, 23, was found with gunshot wounds to his chest and leg shortly before 6am on Sunday in the South Shore area.
Less than half an hour earlier, Juan Cervantes Sierra, 44, was found shot in the neck in Chicago Lawn on the South Side.
A woman was found shot to death at 2.40am in West Garfield Park.
Nautica Thompson, 23, died shortly after midnight on Saturday night at a party in the Austin neighborhood.
The second to die, after Ricks, was 26-year-old Aaron Brown, fatally shot at a house in Washington Park on the South Side.