CHICAGO (AP) — The death of a 9-year-old boy who was killed in an alleged gang execution marks “a new low” for Chicago, a priest said Tuesday during the boy’s funeral.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and actor-rapper Nick Cannon were among the hundreds attending the funeral of Tyshawn Lee at St. Sabina Roman Catholic Church, where the boy’s body rested in a small, red casket. Tyshawn was shot in the head Nov. 2 in an alley as he was headed to his grandmother’s house in a neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side.
During Tuesday’s service, the Rev. Michael Pfleger said the boy’s death is a wake-up call for the city.
“A baby was executed,” Pfleger said. “We have gone to a new low that’s removed what used to be some codes, some barriers, some lines that used to be drawn in the community, some things in our city that were not acceptable.”
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Pfleger, who shook hands and hugged visitors who filled the pews and lined up along the walls and on staircases of the church, received a standing ovation for questioning why an abundance of community and police resources were devoted to look for suspects in the fatal shooting of a suburban Chicago police officer, whose death was later ruled a suicide, but not when someone killed a child.
“Our children have a right to walk our streets. Our children have a right to play in the park. Our children have a right to sit on their porch. Our children have a right expect to be safe wherever they are in the city of Chicago. Our children deserve that,” Pfleger said. “Tyshawn was doing what every child has a right to do: be a child.”
Police say the death was the result of two gangs fighting in a string of retaliatory events dating back months. Police have said Tyshawn was “lured” from a park into the alley because of his father’s alleged gang connections.
“Tyshawn was not in the wrong place; the murderer, the assassin was in the wrong place,” Pfleger said. “We must find the killer of Tyshawn.”
Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy has said the boy’s father is not cooperating in the investigation. He has said police have identified two gangs and some people allegedly involved in the shooting, but can’t prove “who did what.”
The child’s father, Pierre Stokes, has denied authorities’ claims and said he’s “not the gang-banger type.”
Activists have pledged $54,000 and relocation for information in Tyshawn’s slaying.