Chicago police believe the gunman who shot a 1-year-old boy in the head Thursday night might have been aiming for his mother as they sat in an SUV on the South Side.
“We believe the mother was the potential target,” police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Friday. “This was not random.”
Police sources said detectives are not sure of the motive but the boy’s mother has been shot in the past. Also, the boy’s father is serving time in a federal prison, though it was not known why. And the father of the boy’s older brother, who also was in the SUV, was killed in a previous shooting. Details were not available.
No one was in custody, but churches and community groups have offered $13,500 in reward money.
The boy’s grandmother had been dropping someone off at a home in the 9900 block of South Throop Street around 5:30 p.m. Thursday when a dark sedan pulled up and as many as eight shots were fired, Guglielmi said.
The grandmother checked inside the car and saw that the 1-year-old, identified as Dejohn Irving, had been shot. She drove to Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park, and the boy was transferred from there to Comer Children’s Hospital in “very critical” condition, police said.
“He’s on life support and it doesn’t look good,” the boy’s grandfather, Melvin Freeman, told reporters outside the hospital. “He was just a baby.”
Dejohn’s older brother and another boy also were in the back seat and Chase’s mother was in the front passenger seat, but none of them were injured, family said. The boys are 4 and 5 years old. The passenger side of the SUV had at least eight bullet holes, marked with stickers by evidence technicians.
Freeman said his grandson “made your day. He was walking, he was a fun baby.
“We need to put these guns down,” he continued. “The summer is coming, we need to put them down. Our babies are dying. We need to stop doing this. Could we please put these guns down and let these babies live? Let these babies live.”
At least $6,000 in reward money is being offered for information in the case: $5,000 from the Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Church on the South Side, and $1,000 from community activist Andrew Holmes.
“Let’s help this baby, let’s bring these perpetrators in,” community activist Andrew Holmes said outside the hospital Friday afternoon.