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'He Was Still My Baby,' Says Mother of Slain Boy, 14

By Josh McGhee | August 26, 2013 3:27pm
 Lavander Heares, 14, was shot near the elementary school from which he'd recently graduated.
Lavander Hearnes
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WEST GARFIELD PARK — Barbara Perry had been looking forward to sending her son, Lavander Hearnes, off to his first day of high school at Manley Career Academy Monday.

Instead, Perry sat in her front room, consoled by family members, planning her 14-year-old son’s funeral, and mourning the loss of her son, a boy described as “crazy kind-hearted” and “playful,” a boy who helped neighborhood children fix their bikes.

“I’m not going to get to go to his graduation,” Perry, 52, said. “He was still my baby. He was still young.”

Lavander was gunned down early Sunday morning while attending a block party near his home in the 4000 block of West Wilcox Street. Police said he was shot in the chest about 12:20 a.m. He was still conscious when he was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, but died at the hospital a few hours later. An autopsy determined he died from a gunshot wound to the arm.

“I didn’t want Lavander over there,” Perry said. “If it was too late, I usually call him and make him come home.”

Perry was in her backyard when friends of her son came running to tell her he’d been shot.

"I jumped in my car and flew over there, but he was already in the ambulance," Perry said. "I was frantic, scared and nervous. I was out of my mind, and they wouldn't let me see him."

Perry said Lavander was athletic and “spoke his mind.”

He loved to play football for the Garfield Gators. His Facebook page shows him suiting up as a fullback, and displaying the uniform for the Chicago Chargers youth football team.

“He wanted to play football professionally. He wanted to go to college” at Ohio State, his mother said.

Lavander was shot just yards from the Safe Passage route that leads to his former school, Delano Elementary. Delano was renamed Melody Elementary after Chicago Public Schools decided to merge the two schools.

Even though the party was near the Safe Passage route, Perry said it didn’t matter at night.

“It’s sad that kids are being killed,” she said.