Person questioned in boy's fatal shooting

July 29, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Relatives say they had considered sending Robert Freeman, 13, out of state to stay with relatives because of the violence in Chicago.

Area 2 detectives say they are questioning a person of interest, someone who lives not too far from the crime scene in the 11500-block of South Perry.

"The doctor told me he found 22 bullet holes in my baby," said mother Theresa Lumpkin.

Robert was leaning against a car talking with friends Wednesday night when witnesses say a young man approached with a warning.

"One of my baby's friends that was with my baby told them, 'Don't be sitting here when I get back,'" said Lumpkin. "So he went through the gate, went back and came back with something wrapped around his face, a black t-shirt around his face, and that's when he got to shooting."

Relatives wonder whether Robert Freeman was shot in a case of mistaken identity.

"It didn't make sense my nephew suffered the way he did. He didn't deserve it. It wasn't for him," said Jennifer Jackson, Robert's aunt. "It wasn't his time. He was only 13."

Neighbors say Robert spent his summer months riding his bike up and down the block and mowing lawns to make money.

"He riding his bike up and down the street. Everybody knew this kid. Everybody. I got people don't even know me coming up and crying like he was their child. I know he was a good kid," said Lumpkin.

Activists are asking witnesses to come forwards.

"When the guy ran through this lot, that needs to be cut and gated, was just shooting. It's crazy. This has been going on ever since I've been here," said Sharon Davis, West Pullman resident.

"That person has to understand, tell himself, why did he take this young man's life? For that amount of bullets to go into one person, [there's] some anger somewhere," said Andrew Holmes, No Guns No Violence organization. "You figure you have someone who thinks they own the street. What we're trying to do is find and help the problem homes, the people kids, and even the problem parents."

Longtime residents say the housing crisis has made violence worse in the neighborhood, with abandoned buildings eating away at the fabric of the West Pullman community.

"Twenty-five percent -- one in four -- houses in this community is abandoned, boarded up," said Eddie Franklin, West Pullman resident.

Residents say the abandoned properties create the perfect environment for a criminal conduct and other mischief.

Relatives say Robert had recently been begging them to let him move to Michigan to live with his grandmother to escape the violence that plagues his neighborhood.

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