Charges pending in toddler's death

April 23, 2010 (CHICAGO)

The 21-year-old suspect sat at Area 2 headquarters Friday morning as detectives questioned him. He turned himself in late Thursday afternoon but has not yet been charged in the toddler's death.

The suspect is believed to have opened fire on a parked car near 92nd and Langley Wednesday night, hitting Cynia Cole in the head. She was sitting in the car with her father and two sisters. Police say the shooter fired several shots into the car, but no one else was injured. The suspect turned himself in hours after Cynia was pronounced dead Thursday.

"This is like taking the heart out of me. They took my heart," said Cynthia Lyons, victim's grandmother.

Police suspect the shooting was gang related. Investigators say Cynia's 25-year-old father is a known gang member and was the likely target. The family said the father is not in a gang.

After learning the suspect had turned himself in, Cynia's relatives went to Area 2 police headquarters.

"The mother of the shooter expressed the same thing to me, please let the family know how much they are in my prayers," said Rev. James Meeks, Salem Baptist Church, who helped facilitate a break in the case.

Meeks said he got a call around noon Thursday from someone close to the suspect. He was told the young man wanted to turn himself in. Meeks said he spoke to Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis and went with detectives to arrange the surrender.

Meeks walked into the police station with the suspect and his mother Thursday afternoon. The mother walked upstairs with her son and then said goodbye to him.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that one of Cynia's father's friends had recently shot the suspect in Cynia's murder.

"He took an innocent baby from us, and right now we're glad that the assailant is caught, if it's him," said Karen Lyons, Cynia's aunt. "We want justice at this point."

Activists had offered a $1,500 reward.

"For someone to come out like a terrorist and unload on this car, that child didn't know when to duck or when to do anything to anybody," said community activist Andrew Holmes.

People in the neighborhood speculated that the shooting may have been retaliation for another incident Wednesday. They are trying to find out if there is any connection between the shootings.

"It is retaliation about, you know, somebody got killed at 95th and King Drive. It is never going to stop now," said neighbor Brian White.

"Watching a 2-year-old's frail body just fade away, it's senseless and I'm tired of it," said Jovan Haynes, Cynia's godmother. "Too many bodies are dropping every day, but this is a child, a child. My goddaughter."

The toddler, also known as Cocoa, had been known as a feisty little girl who was always in charge, even in church.

"She took over the Sunday School class one Sunday... with her smile and everything else she does," said Rev. Jasper Edwards, the Lyons' family pastor.

"Cocoa was a very demanding child. She liked to tell you what to do. But she was also sweet about it," said Cynthia Lyons.

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