Gun violence in Chicago over the Fourth of July weekend left 10 dead and 54 others wounded across the city. Amari Brown, a 7-year-old boy on Chicago’s West Side, was the youngest of the fatalities.
Amari had spent the day celebrating with family and riding his scooter up and down the block where he lived with his grandmother and several other relatives in Humboldt Park. Just before midnight, a gunman opened fire outside a relative’s home where Amari and other children were playing, hitting both the 7-year-old and a 26-year-old woman in the chest.
Amari was pronounced dead at an area hospital about two hours later. Police told the Chicago Sun-Times neither Amari nor the woman was the intended target.
“He was just down. He wasn’t crying, he was speaking. ‘Daddy, daddy,'” Amari’s father, Antonio Brown, told the Chicago Tribune. “I picked him up and put him in the car. I was in the back seat, I was talking to him the whole time. I was like, ‘You cool, I know you cool.'”
But Police Supt. Garry McCarthy blamed the boy’s father in a Sunday news conference addressing the weekend violence. McCarthy said the elder Brown was a “ranking gang member” who is believed to be the shooter’s target.
Amari was killed by a “bullet meant for his father,” McCarthy said at the news conference.
The little boy was struck during an eight-hour span of gun violence in Chicago — between 9:20 p.m. Saturday and 4:45 a.m. Sunday — that left three people dead and 27 wounded.
Family described Amari as “a sweet, sweet little boy” who loved to joke and dance, and who “had a big imagination.”
“It’s crazy. Like who would shoot a 7-year-old? He got shot in the chest. Who would do that? To a baby?” Amari’s grandmother Vedia Hailey told the Sun-Times. “All the kids that are getting killed out here — it’s crazy. When is it going to stop?”
No arrests have been made.
McCarthy had promised “all hands on deck” during the holiday weekend to avoid a repeat of last year’s Fourth of July shooting levels.
Chicago has already tallied more than 225 homicides so far this year, at least 200 of which have been from shootings, according to RedEye Chicago’s Homicide Tracker.
This story has been updated to reflect comments from Antonio Brown and Supt. Garry McCarthy, and weekend shooting totals.