Chicago police say 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee was lured into the alley and executed as he returned from school.
His uncle, Christopher Smith, says Tyshawn had already come home to his grandmother’s house and then taken his basketball into the alley, where there is a hoop over a garage. A pair of gunmen then appeared.
“They been doing their homework on him,” the uncle says.
The boy’s father, Pierre Stokes—known as Woodie and also as Wooh Gotti—is said to be a member of the New Money Renegade faction of the Killaward gang, which is itself a faction of the much larger Gangster Disciples gang.
New Money is said to be in a two-year war with the nearby Bang Bang Gang (BBG), a faction of the Terror Dome gang, which is itself a faction of the much bigger Black P Stone Nation gang.
The more recent fatalities include BBG member Tracey Morgan, known as T-Time. He had a brother with Killaward, but with the Kutthroat faction. That apparently earned him no special consideration from the New Money faction of Killaward.
Never mind your blood ties. Faction affiliation—and therefore life and death—is decided by what block you happen to be raised on. BBG was BBG. New Money was New Money.
“BBG and New Money, that’s the war right now,” Morgan’s brother told The Daily Beast.
On the night of Oct. 13, Morgan’s mother had just picked him up from a parolee “call-in,” where police and federal officials join with social services providers in offering gang members help if they renounce violence, and misery if they do not.
The program has had considerable success, but there would be no determining its ultimate effect on Morgan. He and his mother were on their way back to his home turf when gunfire erupted from another car. He suffered a fatal wound to his abdomen. His mother was shot in the arm, but she seemed to forget her wound as she screamed, “My son is dying! My son is dying!”
Five days later, a New Money associate was wounded as he drove with a 19-year-old named Brianna Jenkins. The young woman was hit in the head and killed.
But the police believe that BBG remained thirsty for more blood. And BBG could have found any number of targets on New Money’s home turf at West 80th Street and Marshfield Avenue.
“We be out here every day,” Tyshawn’s uncle, Smith, later noted on Twitter.
The problem for BBG was that those New Money targets shoot back. BBG was apparently anxious not to suffer any further losses.
Little Tyshawn was not going to be packing anything more deadly than the basketball he always toted to Scott Joplin Elementary School. And, since he lived with his maternal grandmother in BBG territory, BBG would not have to fret about encountering rival gunmen.
“Yall super scary ass scared to come on 80th Marshfield,” Tyshawn’s uncle later remarked on Twitter. “Grown clown ass n***as from bbg chassed dat lil boy down da alley and killed him.”
In 2013, BBG is said to have killed 29-year-old Shawntina Purpo, the sister of a New Money leader known as Buttercup, but that was because somebody pushed her between a shotgun and the intended target.
In a demonstration of callousness made all the more despicable by abject cowardice, BBG is now said to have made a fourth-grader with the eerily similar name Tyshawn the intended target.
If the killing was not just a spontaneous act and was indeed planned and carried out with the approval of the more senior members of BBG, it is worth noting that the man said by some to be the leader—known as Pieface—posts happily tender photos of himself with his young daughter.
The 25-year-old mother of the murdered 9-year-old seems to have once posted a photo of herself holding an automatic pistol to her lips as if she had just blown the smoke from the muzzle. But she would now surely be the first to heed her own plea in the aftermath of her only child’s death.
“Please put down the guns!” Karla Lee said through tears.
The father, Stokes, aka Woodie, aka Wooh Gotti, has an outstanding gun charge and is said by police to have been less than cooperative, telling detectives not once but twice, “Fuck you!”
Several members of the father’s crew, including the murdered boy’s uncle, Smith, sought to comfort him in the hours that followed the killing.
“Me, Kingfuzzy Bandingup Boss, Ceo Glenn & Wooh Gotti chilled all night wit da bottles & some smoke trying to make light in a dark situation but shit is always gone be all bad man,” Smith reported online. “Bro just lost his son 2 dem fuckin cornballs... i never had soo much hatred toward anybody that run dis deep.. 1st dey kill brianna a innocent female and now a child! We hope n***as prepared for a never ending war!”
The police sought to speak with Smith in an apparent effort to head off more violence. The police also wanted to question him about some of the murders in the protracted conflict leading up to Tyshawn’s death.
“They started harassing me about other little murders they say are connected to this one,” Smith told The Daily Beast.
The police took out a search warrant in his name to search a basement apartment where Smith resided.
“12 [the police] just raid my crib again,” Smith tweeted.
He managed to elude them.
“Dey just chased da shit outta me,” he added. “I’m outta breath like a mtf man.”
The certainty that the police would be watching kept Smith from attending a memorial gathering for his nephew.
“Im salty asf i cant be at da candlelight for Tyshawn and i live on da block,” Smith further tweeted. “But Wooh Gotti kno my current situation.!”
In the midst of it all, Smith got a call from somebody who has more sway over him than all the cops in Chicago.
“My heart really hurt now.. My granny just called and said, ‘Christopher please dont go back to jail i need you here wit me i have nobody else.!’” he recounted on Facebook.
In other reports, he reflected on his life. He looked back at all the people he had lost to gun violence.
“Aint shit been da same since Feb. 28, 2008 when my big brother Martece V. Glass was killed by gun violence.. After him it my girlfriend Sharkila Taylor who was killed..”
He listed 12 other friends and comrades, including Shawntina and Adarius Hayes, known as Juice. Hayes had been under house arrest on a gun charge but insisted he was changing his life since learning his girlfriend was pregnant. He is thought to have been killed by BBG. New Money is thought to have avenged his death by killing Morgan. And BBG was thought to have avenged him by killing little Tyshawn.
“And now wooh son,” Smith wrote. “Every one of da people i named i had real relationships wit and was real close to dem. We fought, smoked, eat, sleep, shit, etc together.. Dont nobody kno da pain i feel deep down besides my Day 1 n***as.. I been wanting to steer from da street life for soo long but i got too accustomed to da fast money and all da bitches wanting to fuck me cause i got a name in da streets but dat shit aint worth it.”
He reflected further, “Death & jail is all i ever known since a 13 year old boy....I went to prison when i was 19 going on 20 years old and did 4 yrs straight for robberies & burglaries.... Am i proud of dat.? No.! But i did what i was accustomed to, to get money, to make sure i had all da nice clothes, shoes, a car.. Do i do da stuff now.? Hell naw lol.! Cause i hate jail and everything about it.”
He went on “I hurt alot of people by going to jail.. While i was gone my granny had brain surgery.. She had to get a big tumor removed from her head.. She aint tell me cause ...she aint want me to stress in jail.. Now think.! What if my granny surgery wasnt successful and she died while i was in prison.. That woulda killed me too cause i woulda committed suicide.. I abandoned my daughters.. My sister cried plenty of nights cause i wasnt dere like usual making her laugh putting a smile on her face.”
He announced that rather than perpetuate the killing he was going to become an active part of the stop-the-violence movement.
“Hope nobody judge me for da choice i decided on cause of all da bad ive done to hurt not only my family but others.. But im finna start speaking at da cease fire events telling my story and i would love for everybody to come support me.. I get support for all da negative stuff.. Well come support a cause dat will help make the neighborhoods safer for da kids & elderly ”
The tag at the end meant 100 percent, for real.
He concluded: “Moral of da story is da people who out here killing innocent people and people period think bout that victim family and da pain dey gone feel da rest dey lives den think bout yo own family.. We only got one life man.! Im not trying to preach or tell no grown ass niggas what to do.. Just useing my knowledge and voice to try to make a change.. If shit dont change at least i tried.. At least my granny can be laid to rest one day knowing her grandson trying to get himself together.!”
But even if this is a 100 percent real ray of hope amid the horror, even if Smith truly is changing, the situation in the street threatens to get only worse. The “shorties,” the young kids on the street, seem less interested in money than in making a name for themselves with a gun.
“They want some clout,” Smith told The Daily Beast, adding that somebody who is quick with a gun can gain a reputation far beyond a faction’s little patch.
And seemingly everyone is carrying weapons with extended 30- and even 50-shot magazines.
“That’s all anybody got out there,” Smith said. “The more shells, the merrier.”
The prospects for peace were not improved when the memorial set up where Tyshawn was killed burned down along with the garage behind it. New Money folks scoffed at suggestions the fire had been caused by prayer candles.
Meanwhile, Smith loyally defended Tyshawn’s mother, Karla Lee, after she was accused of using donations meant for her son’s funeral to buy herself a new car to replace one whose transmission had given out. The mother denied it. Smith argued that she had reason to fear for her safety and was understandably worried about waiting out on the street for the bus to and from work. Smith also reminded everybody that her loss was still unfathomable.
“Let sis grieve man,” Smith tweeted. “She tryna stay sane in dis very fucked up situation.”
On Tuesday, the funeral for Tyshawn Lee will be held at St. Sabina Roman Catholic Church. The pastor, Father Michael Pfleger, has been at the forefront of the effort to stop the killing in Chicago. He led weekly peace marches during the summer, including from the church to the domains of Killaward and Terror Dome, where the young gang members were told that they are loved and that they must stop the shooting and killing. He had in the past tried to get the gang members to bridge their differences on a basketball court.
Now Pfleger will preside at the funeral of a 9-year-old boy who seems to have been deliberately targeted by gang members as he held a basketball behind his grandmother’s house. Pfleger has marshaled the effort to raise a reward for information resulting in the arrest of the killers. The reward reached $55,000 as of Monday, but there had been no arrests.
At the murdered boy’s school, his classmates all signed a basketball to be given to his family.