ARMOUR SQUARE — Family members of Akeem Manago, a 19-year-old Armour Square man shot to death early Sunday, said they think his shooter was waiting for Manago to return to his old stomping grounds.
They said he couldn't get away from the conflicts that define life in his old University Village neighborhood.
"He wanted to live, but there's no escape," said Manago's uncle, Eric Prichett, at the Armour Square home of Manago's mother. "He just wanted to come home and just live."
Police wouldn't comment on any of the family's allegations that Manago, 19, was targeted. They only said the investigation into his death is ongoing.
Manago had grown up in the ABLA-Robert Brooks Homes complex on the Near South Side and lived there until he was 17, family said.
He spent 1½ years in prison until he was released earlier this year and moved in with relatives on the Far South Side, family said.
Saturday evening, hours before being shot, Manago returned to his old neighborhood, possibly for the first time since leaving, family said.
Manago was walking with a 23-year-old man, who relatives said was his best friend, about 1:50 a.m. Sunday, police said.
Three or four men approached the two men from behind and shot them in the 1300 block of West Hastings Street, police said.
Manago died of multiple gunshot wounds at Stroger Hospital about 2:36 a.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.
Manago's friend was shot in the leg and was listed in good condition Sunday morning at Stroger, police said.
Prichett, who still lives in the public housing at the ABLA-Robert Brooks Homes, said he heard several shots while watching television. Some neighborhood girls knocked on his door saying one of the victims was his nephew, who he didn't know was in the neighborhood.
Prichett said his nephew wasn't in a gang but was caught up in the neighborhood's conflicts among cliques.
"Somebody was planning to kill him as soon as he came to the neighborhood," Prichett said. "He was targeted in a blatant murder."
Police wouldn't comment on the uncle's claim.
Family members, who called Manago "A.K." or "Ak," remembered the slain man fondly as someone who was happy, made others happy and thought he could dance.
"I just remember him being cool and smiling and laughing all the time," said cousin Raquan Crawford, 14. "He was always the person to be around when you needed to feel better."