Back of the Yards shooting: 4 suspects now charged as photos of recovering 3-year-old shot in face posted

September 24, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Two South Side men initially were charged Monday evening with the shooting last Thursday in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. Kewane Gatewood, 20, and Bryon Champ, 21, were charged with three counts of attempted murder and aggravated battery with a firearm. Gatewood and Champ were scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.

The additional two suspects, Tabari Young and Brad Jett, both 22, also were charged early Tuesday with attempted murder and aggravated battery with a gun. In a police report, Young "was identified as the person who shot 3-year-old Deonta Howard and 12 other victims."

Although all four suspects are being held legally responsible for the shootings, there were conflicting reports initially as to which one person was the actual shooter. The I-Team was told by authorities that one of the initial arrestees was the actual gunman on Thursday night. Chicago police said that the investigation was still a work in progress and that neither was the shooter. Other law enforcement sources told the I-Team that one of the first two arrestees was considered the gunman.

The identity of a shooter, if it is known to investigators, is often not revealed publicly until all suspects in the crime are charged.

"Not only do we believe a military-grade weapon was used in this shooting, but one of the offenders charged tonight was convicted of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon/possession of a firearm by a felon little more than a year ago," Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said Monday night.

McCarthy added: "He received boot camp for that gun crime and was back out on the streets to be a part of this senseless shooting. That is unacceptable. To truly address violence for the long-term we need state and federal laws that keep illegal guns out of our communities and provide real punishment for the criminals who use them."

Chicago police were expected to talk more about the case during a news conference at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Pastor Corey Brooks of New Beginnings Church posted new photos of Howard, the youngest victim, to Twitter early Tuesday. The toddler remained in the hospital undergoing treatment for a gunshot wound to his face.

A family member of the Deonta Howard issued a statement on the charges Monday night.

"As long as justice is served, and they got the right guys, we'll sleep a bit better," said Curtis Harris, Howard relative.

The little boy is now walking, talking and eating, according to an aunt.

The other 12 victims were said to be doing better, as well.

Chicago police say both men are known gang members, and Champ was convicted of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon last year. He did not go to prison, but instead served a brief stint in boot camp at the Cook County Jail.

Defendants Champ and Gatewood were scheduled to be in Central Bond Court Tuesday morning in the criminal courthouse at 26th and California.

The Thursday night attack, that authorities tell the I-Team was in retaliation for a previous gang shooting a few weeks earlier, resulted in worldwide headlines that depicted Chicago street violence as out-of-control.

Police sources say one of the men was the actual shooter who opened fire on a crowd watching a basketball game in Cornell Square Park, on the city's South Side. He used a military-style assault rifle, according to investigators. The other man who arrested was a "participant" in the crime and in the getaway, authorities said.

The charges were eventually filed Monday night after detectives spent the day "interviewing several people of interest" a police spokesman said earlier in the day. Sources familiar with the investigation said there was initially great reluctance on the part of neighborhood residents to cooperate with authorities.

The Thursday night attack kicked off a bloody weekend in Chicago. The wave of violence between Friday night and Sunday night left three dead and 23 wounded.

While at a police graduation ceremony earlier on Monday, Supt. Garry McCarthy refused to comment on published reports that two people were in custody in connection with a shooting that injured 13.

"When we are ready to announce we have somebody in custody, we'll do that. We can jeopardize the entire investigation by prematurely putting out information. So that's not the case, I'm not gonna comment on it. The investigation is ongoing and proceeding," Supt. McCarthy said. He spoke at a police graduation ceremony at Navy Pier. The Chicago Police Department welcomed 125 graduates to the force.

New crime numbers show violence is down, but recent shootings have put the national spotlight on Chicago. According to the Chicago Police Department, murders are down 20 percent, shootings are down 22 percent and overall crime is down 15 percent.

A coalition of ministers and community organizers say they united over the weekend with dozens of volunteers to assist the investigation into last week's mass shooting in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.

The executive director of the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council says while shootings are down in the neighborhood overall, they need more opportunities for young people.

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