Chicago police have arrested a suspect in the murder of a 9-year-old boy who they say was lured into an alley by gang members earlier this month and fatally shot.
At a press conference Friday morning, Chicago Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy identified the suspect as Corey Morgan, 27. The man allegedly acted with at least two other accomplices, McCarthy said. Investigators are still looking for a man named Kevin Edwards.
The killing of Tyshawn Lee on November 2 cast a national spotlight on a jump in violent crime in one of the country's largest cities, at a time when Chicago police have come under fire for what their critics say is a culture of racial bias.
Police have said the crime was linked to a rivalry between Lee's father, a suspected gang member, and another group.
"It was act of barbarism, the assassination of a 9-year-old child as a gang retaliation to get back at his father," McCarthy said.
The boy's father, Pierre Stokes, has denied being involved in a gang.
News of the arrest on Friday came the same day activists planned to stage a protest over the shooting death of a black teenager by a white Chicago patrolman in an incident caught on police dashboard camera.
FBI Director James Comey said recently that violent crime may be up in certain areas because police are holding back from aggressive tactics, fearful of being videotaped and accused of brutality. But other experts say the ready availability of guns, or a growing heroin trade, may be to blame.
Father Michael Pfleger, a priest and social activist from the neighborhood, told reporters shortly after the shooting that in the past gang members left each other's children alone, but that the code had eroded.
"A baby was assassinated right behind us in this alley... We have gone to a new low," said Pfleger, who offered to personally pay to relocate anyone who came forward with information but was scared of retaliation.
The bloodshed in Chicago has inspired another nickname for the Windy City: "Chiraq." Authorities reported 391 murders from January 1 to October 25, up 18 percent from the same period of 2014. More Americans have been killed in the city over the last 15 years than in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
In late October, President Barack Obama addressed the issue of gun violence in an address to top law enforcement officers in Chicago — his adopted hometown.
The city itself has strict gun control rules that prevent new handguns from being sold, but laws in surrounding states and counties are much more lax. Chicago police estimate that some 60 percent of gun crimes in the city are committed with weapons purchased in other states.
"It is easier for a lot of young people in this city and in a lot of your communities to buy a gun than a book," Obama said.