A man has been arrested and charged in the gang-related murder of a 9-year-old boy who was lured from a park into an alley earlier this month, Chicago Police said on Friday, adding that at least two others were also involved.
The killing of Tyshawn Lee on Nov. 2 cast a national spotlight on a jump in violent crime in one of the country’s largest cities.
Corey Morgan, 27, has been charged with first-degree murder, police said. Police are searching for a second suspect, and have in custody a third suspect being held on another charge.
Police said the crime was linked to a rivalry between Lee’s father, a suspected gang member, and another group, and was connected to at least two other murders. The boy’s father, Pierre Stokes, has denied being involved in a gang.
Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy called Lee’s shooting “an act of barbarism” and said Morgan and the other two suspects were all members of the same gang.
“That gang just signed its own death warrant,” McCarthy said. “We’re going to destroy this gang.”
Police said Lee had been playing basketball in a park when gang members approached him, engaged in conversation, and walked Lee into an alley, where he was shot.
Morgan had been arrested earlier this month on a gun charge. The second suspect is believed to be in the area, McCarthy said.
McCarthy said police received “an awful lot of intelligence from the community,” unlike in other cases in which people have been unwilling to come forward.
Like a number of other U.S. cities, Chicago has seen a rise in violence this year. Authorities reported 391 murders from Jan. 1 to Oct. 25, up 18 percent from the same period of 2014.
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.
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.
Other experts say the rise in violence in Chicago and elsewhere in the nation was likely not caused by a weakening of police action but rather by the ready availability of guns or a growing heroin trade.
(Reporting by Laila Kearney and Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Meredith Mazzilli)