Chicago police say Area South detectives are looking into two credible theories in the daylight murder of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee.
The first is that Tyshawn was walking through the alley Monday after school, came upon a conflict, and was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The other is that he was the intended target, though the motive is unknown.
Fr. Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina’s Church described the killing as “an execution.”
WHAT HAVE WE BECOME CHICAGO…when a 9 yr old Boy can be executed in an alley at 4pm in the afternoon…What… https://t.co/PknWiS4jbn— Fr. Michael Pfleger (@MichaelPfleger) November 3, 2015
“A 9-year-old baby was executed in the alley behind us, by someone who has obviously lost their humanity,” Pfleger told a group of volunteers Tuesday afternoon. “Somebody executed a baby in the city of Chicago. There used to be street codes, there used to be lines that were drawn.… But that line has been removed. Well, we’re here today to say, we’re putting the line back.”
Pfleger’s parish, which is just about a mile from where the killing took place on the 8000 block of South Damen Avenue, is joining with other donors to put up a $20,000 reward for information on the shooting.
About 40 volunteers fanned out around the site of the shooting to pass out flyers featuring Tyshawn’s smiling face.
Leonard Richardson, who is a deacon at St. Sabina’s, walked with his wife Betty, putting handouts indoors and mailboxes.
“You hate to think it takes money to [get] people to do what is right, but if that’s what it takes,” Leonard Richardson said.
Frequently throughout the walk, Betty Richardson looked down at the flyer.
“Look at that face, look at that face.… Just a baby,” she said.
The Richardsons have lived just a few blocks from where the shooting took place for more than 30 years.
“I actually I cried. I just broke down, because I have grandchildren in this age. It just hurt me in my spirit,” Betty Richardson said. “It’s heart-wrenching.”
Another of the volunteers, Tina Wallace, said she has an 8-year-old child.
“I don’t know what [Tyshawn] wanted to do when he got older, but it does not matter. What matters is his life was ended early,” she said. “It’s horrifying so close to home.”
Tyshawn Lee was shot in the head and back in broad daylight Monday afternoon.
The site in the alley is now marked with a makeshift memorial with teddy bears and candles.
According to the Cook County medical examiner, Tyshawn lived on the 2000 block of West 80th Street, less than a block from where he was killed.
The medical examiner lists the cause of death as homicide by multiple gunshot wounds.
Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him @pksmid.