Even in a coarsened city, the grisly killing was seen as uniquely heinous, its victim a fourth-grade student.
Chicago police have arrested a suspected triggerman in the November execution-style slaying of nine-year-old Tyshawn Lee, a tragedy that made national headlines in a city known for horrific gun violence.
Dwight Boone-Doty, who is 22, was charged with first-degree murder for allegedly luring the boy from a playground into an alley, where his body was found riddled with bullets, as the Associated Press reports. Another man, 27-year-old Corey Morgan, was also charged with murder in connection with the killing last fall.
Brutal violence is all too common in Chicago, which has already seen more than 100 murders in 2016. But even in a coarsened local media environment, the grisly killing was seen as uniquely heinous, its victim a mere fourth-grade student. What's more, the incident has authorities worried gang members are now retaliating on one another's families.
Such targets were previously considered off-limits.
Unnamed law enforcement sources told the Chicago Tribune that the tragedy stemmed from a rivalry between two gangs, the Gangster Disciples and the Black P Stones. Back in November, police suspected Lee's murder had to do with them calling in a man named Tracey Morgan for questioning. After talking to the cops, Morgan was killed and his mother was wounded, according to USA Today. Although the precise series of events is still being pieced together, it's believed Lee's father, Pierre Stokes, was in the Gangster Disciples' Killa Ward faction, and that the deaths of two other reputed members (and a number of related shootings) led to his son being killed.
Last fall, Tracey Morgan's brother Corey was questioned and let go before being arrested on an unrelated gun charge. While in jail, evidence suggested he was involved in the Lee shooting, and he was formally accused of sitting in the getaway car. Police said they had more suspects at the time and were actively searching for a man named Kevin Edwards. But Doty, who is suspected of actually pulling the trigger and was also arrested in November on an unrelated charge, was formally fingered Monday. (He's also charged with attempted murder and aggravated battery over the death of 19-year-old Brianna Jenkins in October.)
A basketball was apparently found near Lee's body after his death, and his grandmother said the child loved the game, his tablet, fried chicken, and macaroni and cheese. Garry McCarthy, then the Chicago police superintendent,called the act an "assassination" and "barbarism," as well as "probably the most abhorrent, cowardly, unfathomable crime that I've witnessed in 35 years of policing." (McCarthy was later forced to resign after a video was released showing one of his officers shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times in 2014.)
Lee's father, Pierre Stokes, refused to help police investigate. However, he told the Tribune he doesn't understand why his son was targeted because he is "not hard to find."
The shooting death and its aftermath marked a new low for the city that has taken on the controversial nickname ChiRaq. As of November, cable giant Comcast was reportedly canceling service calls to the city's South Side because it was too dangerous to go there. Lee also did not go trick-or-treating this past Halloween because, his father said, it was too risky.
It remains to be seen if Chicago police come up with a fresh strategy to combat what could be a monstrous shift in local gang tactics. Until then, regular citizens are left grappling with the grim reality of life in their city.
"I walked around the front and looked at him. His eyes were open. He had a gunshot to the head. I knew he was gone," the man who found Lee's body told the Sun-Times. "Who could shoot a child down like that—like he was garbage?"
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