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Austin Shooting Kills 16-Year-Old; 'It's Crazy Over Here,' Neighbor Says

By Kelly Bauer | February 25, 2016 9:02am | Updated on February 25, 2016 2:09pm

CHICAGO — A 16-year-old boy was shot and killed Wednesday night in Austin, police said.

At 6:12 p.m., the boy was walking in the 5300 block of West Huron Street when someone walked up to him, shot him and ran away, said Officer Janel Sedevic, a Chicago Police spokeswoman.

The shooting was on the same block as the Howe School of Excellence and rows of homes and apartment complexes.

The teenager was taken to West Suburban Hospital in critical condition and was later pronounced dead, Sedevic said.

The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office identified the boy as Dujuan Williams of the 4900 block of West Thomas Street. Dujuan was pronounced dead at 6:20 p.m. at the scene.

Shootings are "pretty common" in the area, said neighbor Erica Williams. She moved from the suburbs to Austin for school a year ago, and she said she plans to move out as soon as she can. She doesn't feel safe walking outside and has been unnerved by the shootings, she said. 

Williams' grandmother, walking a little behind her, asked if the boy had been killed.

"Oh my God!" she cried, leaning against Williams, when she learned he had been. At her feet, a ribbon of yellow police tape was curled around a signpost.

Another neighbor, Martrell Meeks, said he saw police on Wednesday night but didn't think too much of it. Meeks, 20, said violence is common in the neighborhood, but he's not afraid for his safety.

"It's crazy over here, you know?" Meeks said. "I feel like, hey, if it's my time to go, it's my time to go. ... But I feel like a 16-year-old, that shouldn't happen to him. He's got too much to live for."

Just a block away from where Meeks spoke, a flier taped to a post fluttered in the wind: "$5,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the person involved with taking the life of Martell 'Telly' Howard BECAUSE ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!" the flier said. "Martell was a son! Martell was a father! Martell was a friend and a brother! STOP THE SILENCE!"

A flier seeking information about the person who killed Martell Howard. [DNAinfo/Kelly Bauer]

Howard was shot and killed on Jan. 21 just blocks away from where the 16-year-old boy was killed Wednesday night.

"We lose friends over here probably once a month. It's crazy over here," Meeks said. "I always think about leaving the neighborhood, but there's danger everywhere. I don't really care too much about leaving the neighborhood. If it happens, it happens. If it don't, I guess God didn't want me to leave the area."

Neighbor Michelle Cage, 20, who's lived in Austin for 10 years, said the neighborhood is "real dangerous." This summer, a boy was shot nearby and he ran onto her block, frightening her young nieces and nephews. They had been riding their bikes outside and didn't understand what happened, Cage said.

"They be shooting from here, shooting from there and shooting from down there," Cage said, turning to point in all directions. "I feel safe, but I've got nieces and nephews and I worry about them going out here.

"We make them stay in the house," she said.

Other neighbors, who declined to be named, said the neighborhood is violent. One man said he tries to stay inside his home and doesn't speak to people.

A woman, who said her family helped desegregate Austin decades ago when they moved in, said she feels safe because she's lived there so long — but she worries when her son and grandson visit her. Her nephew was shot and wounded nearby during an armed robbery just a few weeks ago, she said.

The shooting was on the same block as the Howe School of Excellence, where women and men dropped off young children on Thursday afternoon. They talked about the shooting. [Kelly Bauer/DNAinfo]

Women and men who were dropping off their children at Howe spoke to each other about Wednesday's shooting and called to neighbors as they went into and out of their homes. "Did you hear?" one woman shouted to another. They all said they didn't know about the shooting or the victim, and nobody lingered outside.

"It's not safe — that's not the exact word I would use," said Dante Watkins, 18, who was walking on the sidewalk on Thursday. He's lived in the area for three years. "But, then again, it's not too dangerous. If you don't mess with anyone, no one will mess with you, pretty much."

Watkins, a Christian, said he believes God will only allow things to happen to him that are meant to happen. He worries about the safety of his mother and his sister, he said, but not so much himself. He was robbed at gunpoint while walking home two years ago, he said, but was protected from being shot "by the Lord's will."

"Stuff happens around here all the time, so ... it's not really an ideal place to live at," he said. "But, you know, it is what it is."

Having more police patrol the area or stay at street corners could cut down on violence, Cage said, but she's worried things won't get better.

"It's just a bad neighborhood, and it needs to be turned around," Cage said.

But "I don't really think it could be turned around," she added.

No one was in custody for Dujuan's death.

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