By REEMA AMIN
Chicago Sun-Times Wire
Seven-year-old Amari Brown spent the daytime on the Fourth of July at his Humboldt Park home with his mom’s side of the family, including his maternal grandmother, 52-year-old Vida Hailey. That would be the last time she would see him alive.
Just after midnight, Hailey said the boy’s mother got a call from his dad, who was spending the evening with Amari: Their son had been shot in the chest and was at Stroger Hospital.
Hailey stood outside the hospital early Sunday as Amari’s mother sobbed into the arms of friends and family. Through her own tears, Hailey said she was praying for her grandson’s quick recovery as he underwent surgery for the wound.
Amari, who lived in the 500 block of North Drake, was later pronounced dead at Stroger at 1:56 a.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
Police said the boy and a 26-year-old woman were not the intended targets when they were shot while standing in the 1100 block of North Harding just before midnight. The woman was also shot in the chest and taken to Stroger, where her condition stabilized.
It’s not clear to Hailey and other relatives what happened because they weren’t with him. But a cousin of Amari’s, who didn’t want to be named, said he and others had just returned to a relative’s house on Harding when the shooting happened. He was inside a house as Amari played outside.
Police said investigators believe Amari’s 26-year-old father, suspected of being a gang member, was the intended target of the shooting.
The father was standing on the front porch with Amari’s mother when they heard shots and realized the boy had been struck, police sources said, adding that the father is not cooperating with detectives.
Earlier in the day, Amari was riding his scooter up and down on the block where he lived with Hailey and several other relatives in Humboldt Park, Hailey said.
“Just a regular barbecue, having fun, eating,” Hailey said. “[Amari] was playing up and down the street, riding the scooter.”
Amari, who has multiple siblings, was set to start second grade at Leif Ericson Elementary School, relatives said.
He was a “goofy” child with a big imagination, according to his second cousin, 18-year-old Diamond Trusty. She’s one of many relatives who lived with Amari.
The Ninja Turtles fan loved playing sports, watching movies and performing plays he’d make up, Trusty said. He was “the best dancer,” Trusty said, especially when he showed off his moves to the DLow Shuffle and the Nae Nae.
Even though he was 7 and has an even younger brother, Hailey said Amari was still considered the family’s baby.
“It’s crazy. Like who would shoot a 7-year-old? He got shot in the chest. Who would do that? To a baby?” Hailey asked. “All the kids that are getting killed out here – it’s crazy. When is it going to stop?”