Friends, Family Seek Answers in Slaying of 15-year-old shot 17 times
WEST ENGLEWOOD — Family members of a 15-year-old killed in West Englewood last weekend still were searching for answers Monday, especially as some neighbors suggested the gunmen waited for their target before shooting him 17 times.
Described as a "goofy" kid who did well in school, loved basketball and loved to rap, Christopher Lattin Jr.'s family and friends are still looking for answers.
"What could a kid 15 years old do to get shot 17 times?" his aunt, Veronica Adams, asked Monday. "It's senseless. He was an honor roll student since he was a little boy — we're still trying to piece this all together."
Christopher was walking toward his home in the 5600 block of South Marshfield Avenue about 3:10 p.m. Saturday when he was shot more than a dozen times in the street at Loomis and Garfield boulevards, authorities said.
Christopher, a student at Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy, 7651 S. Homan Ave., was pronounced dead at 3:52 p.m. at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office and the boy's family.
A friend and neighbor, Linda Trimuel, 14, said she saw a brown van circling the area several times Saturday before the slaying.
Another neighbor, a retired police officer and resident of the block for 40 years who asked not to be identified, said he and a relative were home at the time of the shooting. He said the relative saw the shooting and told him three gunmen got out of the van and removed their coats before approaching the boy.
Police on Monday would not speculate on a motive for the slaying. However, they said a "possible offender" was in custody Monday afternoon. Christopher's family members said they were told it was unclear whether there was enough evidence to file charges.
According to friends and relatives, the teen was far removed from the violence frequently seen in the neighborhood. They denied he had any gang ties.
"Chris was funny, laid-back, funny, smooth, nice. He was cool and now he's gone," a tearful Linda said. "He didn't have nothin' to do with what took place on this block."
She added: "He didn't even get a chance to follow his dream."
On Sunday, Linda said she bought a pair of blue-and-white sunglasses like the ones her slain friend was known to wear. On Monday she proudly wore the glasses at the site of his death, which is less then 15 feet from her own home.
At the boy's West Englewood home Monday, Christopher's best friend said Christopher had a silly sense of humor.
"He was the only one who acted like me — 'cause we're goofy like that," said Fenisha Thomas, 15. "He wanted to rap. All he wanted to do was be successful and get his family out the 'hood."
Christopher was the only one who could really make her smile, she said.
As Christopher Lattin Sr. busily made calls to police from the kitchen of the home Monday, Adams said she was "just trying to keep my family strong. He will be sorely missed, but nobody can take him from our hearts."
The teen graduated from Arthur A. Libby Middle School, which his aunt described as the family's "backbone" since the slaying. The school plans to hold a vigil for Christopher soon, according to a flier being distributed in the neighborhood.
Libby school officials could not be reached for comment late Monday.