SOUTH DEERING — Ida Hall battled rain and emotions Tuesday afternoon as she stood where her 15-year-old son was shot to death last week and asked the neighborhood for help in catching his killer.
"This code of silence and 'don't talk' and 'snitches get stitches' is bull crap," said Hall, who was accompanied by community activist Andrew Holmes and family and friends in announcing a $5,000 reward for information leading to conviction of the killer of her son, Deon Gilbert.
"I know somebody knows something," she said as the group went door to door distributing reward fliers. "All closed eyes aren't sleep."
According to police, Deon was walking with a friend in the 10400 block of South Bensley Avenue around 10:45 p.m. Friday when the driver of a dark minivan opened fire and headed south. Deon was brought to Comer Children's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Deon, of the 8100 block of South Evans Avenue, had spent Thursday night at a friend's house and didn't come home Friday, which was report card day at his school, Butler College Prep, 821 E. 103rd St., Hall said.
She spoke to her son Friday by phone and told him she was going to the school to pick up his report card. The teen later shared his grades with his father and decided to stay with a friend for the night, she said.
Hours later, Hall knew something was wrong when she noticed missed calls on her cellphone, she said.
"I looked at my phone and had seven missed calls from Deon's phone and four missed calls from his friend's mom's phone. Deon don't call me back to back to back like that seven times. I call him back to back seven times," a teary Hall said with a little laugh.
She said she didn't remember if it was her son's friend or the friend's mother who broke the horrible news that Deon had been shot.
She sped to the hospital where a doctor told her Deon had been shot in his abdomen and his heart had stopped. Doctors cut his chest open to restart his heart and installed a breathing tube to try to keep him alive, Hall said.
Hall said she asked the doctor, "So you're telling me there's a 50-50 chance that my son will make it?" The physician responded: "No, I'm telling you it doesn't look good."
Deon didn't make it though surgery, Hall said.
Deon had gotten into a fight earlier in the week after leaving his high school, where he was a sophomore. Hall said she believed the shooting was in retaliation for the fight.
"I know words cannot bring my baby back, but I'm asking if anybody knows anything, saw anything, heard anything, please take it to the police, the detectives, tell a friend, so they can tell a friend, so we can find out who did this to my son. I want justice," Hall said.
Chris Goins, principal of Butler, said the fight happened after Deon left school and didn't involve other Butler students.
Deon was one of the school's strongest students, especially in math, and dreamed of going to Florida A&M University to major in architectural engineering. He was also a leader on Butler's first football team, Goins said.
"Butler College Prep recognizes Deon's life. We value Deon's life. We are very saddened but we will triumph through this," Goins said, adding that students at the school were doing community service in his honor on Tuesday.
"We are united together to hopefully bring healing to this, and we will move forward as a unit, as one big family, along with Deon's family," said Goins.
Deon's funeral is planned for Saturday, family members said.
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