(CBS) — The family of a 9-year-old Chicago boy is trying to come to grips with his murder and asking for the public’s help in solving the crime.
Antonio Smith was shot and killed earlier this week, not far from where he lived in the Grand Crossing neighborhood, on the city’s South Side.
Kawada Hodges struggles to understand who could have shot and killed his son.
He says his son had a tantrum Wednesday afternoon and left the house. His brother chased after him. Antonio’s father started searching the neighborhood, by car.
At the same time, Antonio’s mother called police to say her son was missing. Minutes later, she received a call that he had been shot about 2 ½ blocks from home, near where his grandfather lives.
“I just believe that was where he was heading to and got caught in some gang crossfire,” Hodges says. “He wasn’t into gangs. We just got him into football. That wasn’t his lifestyle.”
“Chicago, you hurt me — you hurt me bad,” the father says.
Hodges says the unspoken “code of silence” must be broken, when it comes to finding the person who murdered his son. Community leaders and activists agree.
“We have to be absolutely outraged,” says St. Sabina’s Father Michael Pfleger. “This is unacceptable. You don’t execute. That’s what I call it, an execution, when a 9-year-old boy is shot repeatedly. That’s not a drive-by shooting. That’s an execution.”
The St. Sabina Children’s Reward Fund is offering $5,000 for information leading to an arrest. Community activist Andrew Holmes is adding $1,000 of his own personal money, to that reward. The sum had grown to $13,500 by Thursday evening, following other contributions.
“We will surely turn that information over and take these people off the streets. Have a heart about this kid. This is just a child,” Holmes says.
If you have information, call (800) 883-5587.
On Thursday night, several hundred people filled the back yard of an apartment building where Antonio was found. They offered prayers and demanded action, WBBM’s Bob Roberts reports.
Great Aunt Dorothy Woods said it is time for Chicagoans to get on their knees to pray for the shooter and to pray for the bloodshed to end.
Area Central Detective Sgt. Shawn McGavock spoke on behalf of the Chicago Police Department, asking those who believe they know something that could help detectives to call his unit.
Tips are being taken there at (312) 747-8380.