Brandi Murry stood in front of the red brick two-flat Thursday but could not bring herself to walk into the backyard, where her 9-year-old son Antonio was gunned down the day before.
“I wanted to know where he took his last breath,” Murry said. “I am numb.”
As she and her 13-year-old daughter stood silently on the sidewalk, Antonio’s stepfather finally headed around back. He walked through overgrown weeds and reached a concrete slab where police found his son, shot in the chest, arms and hands Wednesday afternoon.
“Just to see where they found him,” Kawada Hodges said. “Also to try to piece in my mind how he could’ve gotten back there.”
Police said a dispute between two factions of the Gangster Disciples gang has recently flared in the neighborhood, but they don’t believe Antonio belonged to a gang and said he came from a good family that recently moved into the area.
No arrests have been reported and no description of the gunman has been released by police.
Murry said officers were waiting for her when she came home from work Wednesday afternoon. They showed her a picture of her son and said he was at Comer Children’s Hospital, where he died an hour after he was shot.
“He just didn’t make it. He just didn’t make it,” Murry said. “I’m praying for the whole city right now. I don’t want no other parent to ever go through this. I feel your pain. It’s bad and it hurts so much.”
She and other relatives couldn’t explain why anyone would want to gun down the boy, who was going to be a fourth-grader this fall.
“He liked to joke, he liked to play,” Murry said outside her home today. “I don’t understand why anybody would do this.”
“He was just a child, just a baby,” said a cousin, Kenya Eggleston, who showed up at the hospital Wednesday. “Still had a whole life ahead of him. And why? Just a child. When is it going to stop?”
“I want whoever did this to turn himself in because he is an innocent baby,” said another cousin, Rasheda Eggleston. “He didn’t deserve it.”
Antonio’s mother said her son had begun pee wee football a few weeks ago in the afternoons, first for Washington Park and then Jackson Park.
“He was the type to make friends with everybody,” Murry said. “They all playing together. That was the type of kid he was.”
Antonio had appeared on a float in the annual Bud Billiken parade, an event that was marred this year by gunfire near the route.
He liked the rapper Chris Brown and loved to dance. “He always liked to give a show,” Murry said. “At dance contests, birthday parties, he loved to dance. I have video of him dancing in the house.”
Antonio had spent most of his days this summer either in his house, his stepfather’s house or at his grandmother’s, Murry said.
On his free time she tried to make sure he read, Murry said. He was good at reading and, although “a little bit iffy” in math, he earned mostly As and Bs school. He was supposed to start the fourth grade at Hinton Elementary after Labor Day.
“I tried to keep him in something,” Murry said. “He had a good summer.
“I don’t think anybody can process losing a child,” she said.
Though he was new to the neighborhood, Antonio left an impression on 16-year-old Lanayiah Clayton. She frequently visits her aunt at the boy’s apartment complex and often spent time in a small park with Antonio and other neighbors to play sports and goof off. Antonio called her “my girlfriend.”
Marrieal Winchester, 13, last saw Antonio hours before he was killed. She bought him a sandwich, fruit cup and milk from a lunch truck that often passes through the complex.
Her mother, Chrishawda Wilcox, remembered Antonio as “energetic” and “a little wild and crazy.” Antonio liked to dance in front of everyone to hip-hop beats, she said.
Wilcox got teary-eyed and flailed her arms in disgust when she learned the boy died. “I’m just going to put them in my prayers,” Wilcox said of Antonio’s family. “Everybody’s killing each other.”
She said gunshots are a familar sound around her complex in Grand Crossing.
Her daughter Marrieal pointed toward a playground at the edge of the park. It’s a short walk from her apartment but she stays away. “Too much shooting over here,” she explained.
Wilcox said Antonio’s death is a grim reminder of the dangers her five children face. “I can’t even grasp no words to tell you how I’d feel. … I’m gonna die,” she said. “I love (every) one of my kids. … This is a mother’s fear.”
Source: Chicago Tribune