CHICAGO (CBS) – The 3-year-old boy who was wounded in a mass shooting in the Back of the Yards neighborhood last week was released from the hospital Wednesday night.
Deonta “Tay-Man” Howard Jr. and his mother visited New Beginnings Church in Woodlawn, with the pastor, Rev. Corey Brooks, after Deonta was released from Mount Sinai Hospital.
He was out at Cornell Square Park at 51st and Wood streets with his parents last Thursday, when at least two men opened fire on a crowded basketball court – one of them firing an AK-47 – leaving 13 people wounded, including Deonta.
Deonta was shot in the face, but did not suffer any brain damage from the wound. He will need plastic surgery to repair the damage to his ear and cheek.
He said he feels “good,” and thanked his friends and neighbors for their support.
“I love y’all,” he said. “I was happy to be home.”
His mother said he’ll need surgery every couple years as he grows.
“They said that he’s going to have to have surgery for the next 15 to 20 years, so it’s going to be a long process, but it’s okay,” Leggett said. “I told God I could deal with anything, as long as my baby comes home. And he answered the whole world’s prayers, not just mine, because we all was praying.”
Asked if anything still hurts, Deonta pointed to where he’d received a flu shot
“It hurts right here,” he said.
Despite his injuries, Deonta had kind words to share with the world as he visited his family church Wednesday night, with his mother, Shamarah Leggett.
“May the good Lord bless you. May the good Lord bless you,” Deonta sang into a microphone.
Deonta also later plucked a guitar while hanging out with his family after going home from the hospital.
He said he doesn’t want to go back to the park where he was shot.
Leggett said he told his older brother, “’You can’t go back to the park, because when the sun goes away, then they going to shoot you.’ I’m like, ‘No, they not.’”
She said Deonta will probably need to talk to a counselor or therapist about the shooting.
“He’s shook up a little bit, but he’ll keep saying he’s happy to be home,” she said. “I’m excited. He’s still giving me a run for my money. Still got me all over the place. It’s like nothing wrong with him. You see he’s climbing up, and jumping down. … This is just Tay-Man just being Tay-Man.”
“He never stopped talking, he never stopped running, he never stopped jumping. … He’s just being Tay-Man,” she added.
Four men have been charged in connection with the shooting, including two alleged gunmen.
Tabari Young, 22; Bryon Champ, 21; Kewane Gatewood, 20; and Brad Jett, 22, all have been charged with three counts of attempted murder, and three counts of aggravated battery. Police and prosecutors have said Young fired an assault rifle into the crowd at the park, and Champ fired a .22-caliber revolver. Gatewood allegedly supplied the assault rifle, and Jett allegedly acted as a lookout.
Police have said the shooting was an act of retaliation for a separate gang-related shooting earlier the same day, which left Champ with a graze wound.
All four have been ordered held in custody without bail, pending trial.
Police have said the four suspects will face additional charges later, and more suspects might be arrested down the line.