ENGLEWOOD — Toryion Conner survived a shooting two years ago, but the street violence that left him confined to a wheelchair continued to plague the rest of his short life.
The 15-year-old boy was shot three times in West Englewood when he was 13, according to his mother Rochelle Conner, but it wasn't until his younger brother was shot in November that Toryion's health went into a tailspin.
On Sunday, he was pronounced dead at Saint Bernard Hospital at 7:37 p.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office. An autopsy Monday was inconclusive on the cause of his death, with more tests planned, the morgue said.
The two years in a wheelchair were hard on the outgoing boy, his mother said from her Englewood home Monday, tearfully recounting how she found her son dead in the room next door.
"He was a wildflower," she said. "He was an outgoing person. He liked to have fun and look good. And then to have someone just snatch that away from you ... to see him suffering in the chair every day."
On July 21, 2012, Toryion was walking with two other boys in the 7100 block of South Loomis Street when shots rang out at 11:23 p.m., police said.
The other boys, ages 15 and 16, were taken to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries, police said. But Toryion was shot in the left hand and right thigh and taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn in critical condition, authorities said.
His mother noted that one of the bullets had also hit his spine, rendering him completely paralyzed from the waist down.
"He was going through so much," she said.
On Sunday, she found his head rolled back as he sat motionless in his wheelchair. The two had been talking only moments before, Conner said, she had urged him to eat before realizing something was wrong.
"I called him, but he didn't answer. I grabbed him and started shaking him. I started CPR," she said. "I never thought my baby was gonna die."
Over the past years her son's will to live seemed to fade, and his mood became increasingly sullen, she said. He was dependent — he needed to be cleaned and fed daily. He came home from the hospital in a wheelchair that he stayed in until his death.
He returned to the hospital in 2013 due to complications. Even after he was able to leave the hospital tragedy followed him home. After his brother Tremon was shot in the chest in November, Conner said Toryion lost hope — even though Tremon survived.
"The minute his brother got shot, he let go of everything," Conner said.
The shootings are all too familiar to Rochelle Conner. In 2009, her uncle and two of her son's cousins were shot to death, she said.
"I blame it all on the shootings," she said Monday, pulling at a jeweled necklace around her neck that belonged to Toryion.
"Don't nobody know what it's like until they go through it."