GRAND CROSSING — The Rev. Michael Pfleger, along with other pastors and community groups, is offering a $13,500 reward for information that leads to the arrest of whoever murdered 9-year-old Antonio Smith.
At a prayer vigil held Thursday evening, Pfleger called the reward a "bounty."
"We're outraged because when you shoot a 9-year-old in a dead-end alley, it is indeed an execution. It is a hit. It is not an accident," Pfleger said. "Whatever the message you were trying to send, we got your message, and you better get our message...If you kill a child in our neighborhood, you are a terrorist."
The 9-year-old was found shot multiple times in a backyard in the 1200 block of East 71st Street about 4 p.m. Wednesday. He was taken to Comer Children's Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Police said Thursday Antonio Smith was intentionally shot but did not know if the 9-year-old was the intended target. The backyard where he was found, which sits just west of train tracks, is the border between two gang factions in the area, but police said they are unsure at this point what role, if any, gang disputes played in the shooting. Antonio was not believed to be in a gang, police said.
Dozens of people gathered Thursday evening in the backyard where the boy's body was found for the prayer vigil. Afterwards, volunteers distributed flyers in the area asking neighbors to come forward with any information.
Kawanda Hodges, Antonio's stepfather, urged someone to come forward and turn in his son's shooter.
"Silence is what's killing everybody," Hodges said. "To not say, you may as well have handed the gun over. You may as well have supplied the bullets.
"Anybody that does know anything, don't be silent about it 'cause that same person who was a monster could victimize you or your kids," he said.
Pfleger said Thursday that the community should be as outraged about the slaying of a 9-year-old boy in Chicago as it was about the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, which sparked widespread protests.
"Michael Brown, who I understand was not armed, was shot multiple times by a police officer. In my mind that is an execution," Pfleger told DNAinfo Chicago. "People are outraged over [Brown's] killing and have demonstrated their anger all week.
"Well, people should have that same anger when they hear a child has been murdered or, in this case, executed," said Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Church in Auburn Gresham.
Pfleger said he was not advocating violence that has marked protests in Missouri, which has seen looting and shootings.
On his personal Facebook page, Pfleger wrote: "I salute the people of Ferguson for their tenacity in demanding justice for Michael Brown ... and we must all be just as outraged and angry about his murder and the issues of racism, poverty, unemployment and all that contributed to this unequal America. ... America must wake up," Pfleger wrote.
"But I am just as OUTRAGED ABOUT A NINE YEAR OLD BOY SHOT MULTIPLE TIMES RIGHT HERE IN CHICAGO AND THE OTHER 8 WOUNDED LAST NIGHT!!! We in Chicago ought to be just as vocal...The MURDERING of our Children is Unacceptable Anywhere, Anytime."
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