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Slain 15-Year-Old Had Moved to California After Father Was Shot to Death

 Patrick Sykes, a 15-year-old who had just finished his freshman year of high school, was shot and killed Thursday while visiting childhood friends in Auburn Gresham.
Patrick Sykes
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AUBURN GRESHAM — Two years after his father was shot to death, 15-year-old Patrick Sykes moved to California to escape Chicago’s gun violence.

But on Thursday, as he was back in Chicago visiting childhood friends, Patrick was gunned down in Auburn Gresham, just blocks from where his father was killed. Patrick had just finished his freshman year of high school and was in town to see family.

“I sent him to live with his aunt [in December] just to get him away from what was going on here,” said his mother, Taminicka Smith, 35. “They say you can’t save 'em all, but I was determined to save one.”

Though her son had reservations about the California move, Smith said he soon grew to love living with his aunt and uncle in Rancho Cucamonga. The three dined out on weekends and often went go-kart racing.

Smith, a mother of four who lives on the West Side, hoped her youngest son would spend his entire summer vacation with her.

But when he arrived in Chicago, "He said there was nothing here,” Smith said. Patrick planned to fly back to California in a few weeks.

Instead, he was shot multiple times about 12:30 p.m. Thursday while standing on a porch in the 1700 block of West 85th Street, authorities said. Patrick was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 1:15 p.m.

Several neighbors, none of whom wished to be named out of fear of retaliation, said they believed the shooting was gang-related. The shooter had been targeting one of Patrick's friends, they said, and the youth got caught in the crosshairs.

“It had nothing to do with" Patrick, one neighbor said Friday. “He was just hanging out with some old friends. He was with the wrong people."

Sitting in a relative’s Auburn Gresham home Friday morning, Patrick's family members described the teen as outgoing and flirtatious. He liked math, loved to dance and could usually be found at a party.

“His favorite phrase was 'TTU' — too turned up,” Smith said with a laugh. “He was going to turn up every chance he got.”

“Somebody asked us, ‘What’s his favorite TV show?' ” said sister Laniqua Anderson, 18. “We can’t remember him watching TV. If he’s not at the mall, he’s at a party or at school. He never sat down long enough to watch TV.”

Patrick dreamed of becoming a fashion designer, Smith said. He loved clothing and accessories — especially caps and shoes — and hoped to study design after high school.

Anderson said her brother often told her which shoes to buy when they went shopping together.

“He was always saying, ‘When I get some money, I’m going to get you this type of shoe,’” Anderson said as she started to cry.

Police didn’t have anyone in custody for Patrick's shooting Friday.

To this day, his father's 2010 murder remains unsolved. Tarrell Sykes was shot dead in an alley near 85th Street and Marshfield Avenue, Smith said, just a couple blocks from where Patrick Sykes was killed Thursday.

“I’m praying to God,” Smith said. “I can’t believe that all of this crime in Chicago is going unsolved. So I’m praying to God. I can’t see God letting us go through this again without it being solved. We still have no closure for his father. I pray it’s going to be OK.”