Janari Andre Ricks wanted to play professional basketball, inspired neighborhood kids
CHICAGO (WLS) -- A 9-year-old boy was shot and killed Friday night in the Cabrini Green neighborhood on the city's Near North Side, Chicago police said.
The child was identified as Janari Andre Ricks, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.
Police said at around 6 p.m. in the 900-block of North Cambridge Avenue, a shooter approached the victim and several other people outside and opened fire in their direction. Police said the boy was playing in a parking lot not far from his home at the time of the shooting.
The boy was struck multiple times, including in the chest. The first responding officers performed CPR until the Chicago Fire Department arrived. The boy was then taken to Lurie Children's Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
"It's just crazy. My boy, he's gone; that was my inspiration, that was my truth," Janari's father Raymond Ricks said. "He wanted to play basketball. He was just a basketball fanatic."
He can't believe his son Janari is gone.
"I'd rather it be me than him," Raymond said.
He was on his way to Atlanta when his child was killed.
"He was going to get a game controller and go back in the house to play the game," Raymond said. "I honestly don't know what happened."
Police said the boy was not the intended target, and that it's not clear at this time who exactly the shooter was aiming at.
While community activist Andrew Holmes urges the shooter to turn himself in, there's a $4,000 reward being offered for information leading to the arrest of the gunman.
"I'm reaching out to his mother, his father, his family. Turn your loved one in because, guess what, this king is gone. This baby is gone," Holmes said.
Raymond said he always wanted a son. He even picked out Janari's name before he was born.
The rising fourth-grader turned 9 this January and always got good grades.
He wanted to play professional basketball and was an inspiration to other neighborhood kids.
So as a father mourns a son now gone, through his pain Raymond wants the violence that claimed his son's life to end.
"Don't pull that trigger; there's innocent people behind that. You feel me. You're hurting someone that ain't got nothing to do with it," he said.
Meanwhile, the community is coming together to support the 9-year-old's family, holding vigil not only to celebrate Janari's life, but to plead for the violence to end.
One father said he's struggling to find the right words to help his son cope with losing a friend to gun violence.
"What can I say? It is senseless. Look at the kids we have to look out for," family friend Kevin Dunn said. "This is our future. What else can be said? I am tired of losing our kids. We are tired."
Another activist agreed.
"The community can no longer hide them or cover them," said Wallace "Gator" Bradley, with United in Peace. "They got to kick them out."
A new group of kids is traumatized by the gun violence in Chicago, letting go of balloons to honor their friend while carrying the weight of loss in their hearts for the rest of their lives.
"No words can explain this," Dunn said.
No one is currently in custody, according to Chicago police.
Area Three detectives are investigating and looking for any video in the area that may have captured the shooting. Any tips can be called in anonymously to Chicago police.