(CHICAGO) — J’Quantae Riles had been back in Chicago for just one week when a bullet took his life Saturday night in the city’s Englewood neighborhood. The teen had moved back to Chicago after a three-week stay in Virginia, where he was staying with his mom and his sister to escape the city’s violence.
“I basically dropped and left everything that I owned to move to Virginia. I just didn’t want to come back, I was trying to make sure I wouldn’t come back,” Franika Marshall, J’Quantae’s mom, told ABC News, adding she was tired of fearing for her children’s life.
Marshall moved her family back to her mother’s house in Englewood on Oct. 30. A week later, her son was shot in the back just two blocks from home while he walked from the barbershop with friends, police said.
“My worse nightmare has come true. I feel numb,” said Marshall, who is six months pregnant with twins. “I feel like I shouldn’t have come back. I should have just stayed out.”
No arrests have been made yet, and detectives in the case are asking neighbors to come forward with information, according to Chicago Police Department’s News Director Anthony Guglielmo.
While Guglielmo said police think the shooting may have been gang-related, he emphasized that doesn’t mean the victim had gang affiliations.
“It may not necessarily be something that the victim had done, but something that a friend or associate did,” Guglielmo told ABC News, adding that J’Quantae’s shooting could have been a case of mistaken identity, or the shooter could have been targeting someone else in the group. J’Quantae had no recorded criminal or gang history, Guglielmo said.
J’Quantae’s murder comes a mere week after 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee was “lured” into an alley and “executed” in an allegedly gang-related shooting, according to police. Tyshawn’s murder in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood took place just blocks away from where Riles was killed.
While Guglielmo said there’s no clear indication that the shootings are related, feuding gangs could be responsible.
“I think what’s happening here is that they’re having mini-feuds and unfortunately these conflicts are escalating to gun violence,” he said. “The biggest thing we need now is individuals to come forward with information.”
J’Quantae’s and Tyshawn’s shootings are just two of several shootings involving teenagers in the city this month. On Nov. 5, a 14-year-old boy was shot in the chest and wrist while playing basketball in a south side park. The teen was later taken to Comer Children’s Hospital, where police said he remains in serious condition. A 16-year-old boy was arrested and charged the following day in connection with the shooting, police said.
Just a day later, three teenagers were also shot while walking outside Excel Southwest High School when a suspect opened fire at about 12:45 p.m., hitting a 17-year-old boy in the torso and grazing a 17-year-old girl and 15-year-old boy. The victims were taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center, where their conditions range from stable to critical. No arrests have been made.
While police reports show a decrease in overall crime, there have been 2,061 reported shootings in Chicago this year (not all of them fatal), up 18 percent from this time in 2014, according to police reports.
The Rev. Michael Pfleger, an outspoken anti-violence activist in Chicago, said the country should be outraged about what’s happening in Chicago’s south side.
“We’ve got to a new low where children are now targets and victims of this lack of moral centering that we find ourselves in. The violence is spiking out of control,” he told ABC News. “A third grader at my school last week said ‘I heard about the 9-year-old, am I safe?’ Children shouldn’t be wondering if they’re next.”
As police search for J’Quantae’s shooter, Marshall said her frustration with the city continues to grow.
“Is this a disease? I just want to get justice for my son,” Marshall said. “He didn’t deserve it, he didn’t deserve it.”
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