14-year-old boy released without charges after deadly shooting amid teen takeover in South Loop

17-year-old Jeremy Smith, shot to death near Roosevelt and Canal, was set to graduate high school this year

Tuesday, March 5, 2024
Boy released without charges after deadly shooting, teen takeover
Jeremy Smith, killed in a South Loop shooting in Chicago near Roosevelt and Canal, was set to graduate from Ombudsman Chicago South this year.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Jeremy Smith's family told ABC7 they weren't aware he was going out to join the crowds that gathered in the South Loop over the weekend, and later got the tragic call that he wasn't coming home.

"That was a call - I'm looking at her and I said, 'I can't go tell her this right now,' and I had to,'" said Hashim Bailey, the victim's stepfather. "Started out as a good Saturday evening, and it just turned out to be horrible."

The weekend of tragedy is now forever etched in this family's life after well over 100 young people were seen descending near the Southgate Market shopping mall where, police said, two teenagers were shot.

"I wish I was there, of course, but I couldn't do nothing," said Rhonda Baker, the victim's mother.

Baker's oldest son, Jeremy, didn't survive.

"For my understanding, it was no altercation. It was just randomly," Bailey said.

It happened Saturday night near Roosevelt and Canal during a so-called teen takeover.

Smith's family said the 17-year-old told them he was just going out with friends at another location.

"Sometimes, children say they're going to be here at this address, and they'll migrate to somewhere else, and that seems to be a problem right now. To you young youth, don't lie and don't lie to those that love you," Bailey said.

A 14-year-old boy, who was custody in connection with the shooting, was released without charges, police said on Monday. Now, no one is in custody or being questioned in connection with the shooting.

Criminal charges were filed against at least nine teens who attended the large gathering. While investigators told ABC7 a gun was recovered from the scene, family members said detectives are still trying to find the person who allegedly pulled the trigger.

"Hopefully, once this individual is apprehended, whether it's the person who is in there now, they can cross the -t's and dot the -i's and his family can get just a little bit of comfort, because they're in the healing process and they'll never heal behind this," said crisis responder Andrew Holmes.

Smith was supposed to graduate this year from Ombudsman Chicago South, but now, his family is left to raise funds for his funeral.

Meanwhile, the teen takeover and shooting has been on the minds of community activists and faith leaders who say they're concerned about the potential for more violence as the weather warms up.

Father Michael Pfleger with St. Sabina Church said it's not too early for churches, law enforcement and city officials to come together and work on a plan for preventing future vio

Father Michael Pfleger with St. Sabina Church said it's not too early for churches, law enforcement and city officials to come together and work on a plan for preventing future instances.

"We better nip this in the bud right now before summer comes," Pfleger said.

But Pfleger said what's most important is reaching young people directly and giving them emotional support.

"We gotta get out young people to understand, you gotta value yourself. You're a gift. You have so much potential and possibility. Don't put yourself in situations where you can get harmed," Pfleger said.

Carlil Pittman with GoodKids MadCity said the organization formed six years ago to get to the root cause of violence in the community, and said they work to provide positive outlets for young people.

"We have a lot of young people who are dealing with traumatic experiences that aren't being addressed in their communities," Pittman said.

Daniel Davenport also works with GoodKids MadCity.

"We do a lot of different things like throwing kickbacks for the youth or have basketball programs or boys mentoring or mentoring programs," Davenport said.

Community leaders say, more than anything, young people need spaces in their own neighborhoods where they feel safe. GoodKids MadCity city says they have their eye on at vacant lot at 62nd and Western, and would like to see it turned into a community center.

"I feel like we're doing the best we can with the resources we have," Davenport said.

Davenport said he and other community activists will still lobby for more resources like increased funding and staffing.

In the meantime, they will continue their work to prevent a repeat of what happened over the weekend.

INTERACTIVE SAFETY TRACKER Track crime and safety in your neighborhood