'Person of interest' in murder of 9-year-old released by police

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News / STMW) - A person of interest who was questioned by police in connection with the fatal shooting of a 9-year-old boy Monday has been released.

Tyshawn Lee was shot in the head and back in Auburn Gresham the 8000 block of South Damen at 4:15 p.m., according to Chicago Police and Chicago Fire Media.

Ambulances responded to the scene, but Tyshawn was dead by the time they arrived, authorities said.

A person of interest, accompanied by an attorney, turned themselves in on Wednesday afternoon, according to Chicago Police News Affairs Officer Veejay Zala.

The person turned themselves in as police investigate whether Tyshawn, shot repeatedly at close range and killed, was "lured and targeted" as part of a series of retaliatory gang killings, a law enforcement source said Tuesday.

However police released the person of interest overnight.

A Chicago Police source told FOX 32 News Tyshawn is related to a gang member who may have been involved in a series of retaliatory killings, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

On Oct. 13, a parolee, Tracey Morgan, was killed and his mother wounded in West Chatham when the car they were in was fired on after he left a meeting in which police and others encourage gang members to avoid violence.

On Oct. 18, a rival 20-year-old gang member was wounded and 19-year-old Briana Jenkins was killed while they sat in a car in Auburn-Gresham.

The source said Tyshawn has a relative in the same gang as the 20-year-old victim and the boy may have been "lured and targeted" in retaliation for Morgan's killing.

The source told the Sun-Times police are also investigating whether other shootings in the neighborhood might be linked to the Tyshawn's killing. The source emphasized that police are seeking information from people in the neighborhood to flesh out those leads.

On Tuesday, a tearful mother begged for her young son's killer to turn themselves into police.

Tyshawn's mother, Karla Lee, left Area South Police Headquarters clutching her son's football and a photo of him with a heart too heavy for words. But she did have enough strength to say a few important words.

"Please turn yourself in, you know you're wrong, you know he's number nine, come on now," Karla said.

Tyshawn's father said his son was targeted, but not because anyone was trying to send a personal message to him.

Pierre Stokes told the Chicago Tribune he could not think of anyone who would have a motive to kill him. But he went on to say that if they did, there was no reason to take it out on his son because he's out in public in the neighborhood all the time. "If anyone wanted to harm him, they could find the opportunity."

"Yesterday I seen something that no parent, officer, anyone should have to see in their lifetime," said Commander Rodney Blisset of the 6th District.

What the commander saw in the alley at 80th and Damen was the lifeless body of Tyshawn.

"What got me even more angry is that I know someone knew exactly who did this, who was involved, and who was around when this occurred," Blisset said.

Volunteers passed out flyers on Tuesday with Tyshawn's picture and information about a reward that is now at least $35,000.

$15,000 of the reward comes from the Cook County Commissioner Sean Morrison, who does a lot of work with Andrew Holmes, who is crisis responder for Chicago Survivors.

"What we want is the person caught today," said Father Michael Pfleger of Saint Sabina Church. "We want him caught today."

But despite that there was no word of any arrest, the code of silence and fear are apparently keeping people from coming forward.

"When you're out here, it could be like, your life could be on the line. If you say nothing but, it's money, but it could be your life, like you don't know, you don't want your life to be taken," said 15-year-old Randall Young.

Police are urging people to come forward and help them solve this crime.

"To be afraid to speak is totally asinine because there are too many anonymous phone calls that you can make," said Auburn Gresham resident Virginia Cosby. "You don't have to give your name."

On Monday night, police searched the alley where Tyshawn was shot and looked for any evidence that they could connect to whoever fired the shots.

Police say an unknown number of people had gathered in the alley when an argument broke out, and then someone started shooting.

"When you shoot an 8-year-old multiple times, that's execution style, that's not a spray bullet, that's not a drive-by...what the hell is wrong with you? Who are you? What are you?" said Father Michael Pfleger.

"This child should be in classroom tomorrow, the perpetrators who discharged this weapon shouldn't have no bed to sleep in tonight," said community activist Andrew Holmes.

People who live in the area say the Gresham neighborhood is fairly safe, but that they have seen an uptick in violence this year.

There is also concern that this could lead to retaliatory shootings, leaving others unsafe. FOX 32 talked to a mother and her 8-year-old son about their concerns after this kind of violence.

"It's sad, it's really sad out here. And people can look on the news and say it's sad all the time but it's heartfelt when you do it, because look at my face, look at his, it is, it's sad," said Tamieka Wright.

"It's a cruel community out here and I wish that it would stop killing and make peace with the world," said 8-year-old Brian White.

The boy's killing continued to reverberate throughout the neighborhood Tuesday.

Almost 24 hours after the shooting, one man couldn't shake the image of the dead child still in his head.

"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," said a man who agreed to be identified by his first name, Ben.

He said he lives adjacent to the alley the boy was murdered, and said he discovered the boy's body.

Ben said he was watching TV, when he heard what sounded like firecrackers. In fact, they were gunshots -- four or five of them.

"Maybe three or four minutes later, I heard someone screaming, 'Call an ambulance! Call an ambulance!'"

Ben ran out into the alley to find Tyshawn, a boy he didn't know, crumpled on the ground, he said.

Ben said he felt like he was looking at a much younger version of his now-grown son.

"Who could shoot a child down like that -- like he was garbage?" Ben said, with disgust.

"We want to let people know that we care," said Pastor Andrew Gibson of Vernon Baptist Church in Woodlawn. "Everybody--all lives matter. We stand behind (Tyshawn's) family. We stand behind this neighborhood. And we're standing behind this community."

Rev. Michael Pfleger believes Tyshawn was indeed targeted.

"This is not a stray bullet, not a drive-by--this is multiple gunshots to a child and only that one person shot," Pfleger added. "There's no question that this is targeted and that it's an execution."

Neighbors said Tyshawn lived with his grandmother, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than 20 years.

The grandmother said he may have been coming from the elementary school, Scott Joplin Elementary School, where he attended, heading towards her house on 80th Place where he kept his basketball. There is a park nearby and he may of been headed there to play, she said.

However, tragically, he never made it.

The mother of the 9-year-old boy posted an emotional message on social media Tuesday morning.

Thank u guys