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Stop Shooting Our Kids, Anti-Violence Activists Plead After 6-Year-Old Shot

 A group of anti-violence activists pray at 60th and Paulina, where 6-year-old Tacarra Morgan was shot earlier this week. Morgan survived the shooting, but activists are calling for an end to violence against children and other citizens.
A group of anti-violence activists pray at 60th and Paulina, where 6-year-old Tacarra Morgan was shot earlier this week. Morgan survived the shooting, but activists are calling for an end to violence against children and other citizens.
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DNAinfo/Kelly Bauer

CHICAGO — Tacarra Morgan was playing on the front porch of her Englewood house. Her grandpa was fixing her bike and had ducked inside, but her mother and grandmother sat with her.

Then, on the street in front of her, shots rang out.

The 6-year-old rushed inside the house with her family, said her grandfather, Arther Morris, all of them trying to get to the basement for safety.

Once inside, Tacarra lifted her shirt and told her grandfather, "Granddaddy, look here. I'm bleeding. I've been shot."

He looked at the wound: She had been hit in her side and her flesh was "boiling out" of the wound, Morris said. But Tacarra stayed calm — calmer than her crying mother and grandmother, Morris said, and calmer than the adults he's seen wounded in gunfire.

Tacarra Morgan, 6, (inset) was wounded by gunfire in front of her home on Tuesday.

Tacarra was the fifth child younger than 13 to be shot this July. Though she survived and is expected to recover, activists took to the corner of 60th and Paulina on Saturday — just yards from where Tacarra was shot Tuesday — to speak out against the shooting and pray for the children who have faced violence this year.

"When we leave home, Father, in this war zone, we know not if we will make it back," a man said while leading the group in prayer. "But now we call upon you because you are able to save our babies, our little angels, our children, our little boys and girls, who are perishing at the hands of these ruthless criminals."

Violence Interrupters President Tio Hardiman and others in attendance called upon Chicagoans to help, saying people should intervene to end violence before it happens.

"The madness has to stop," Hardiman said. "You need boots on the ground, people that can intercept whispers and really reach the high-risk individuals and stop them before they pull the trigger.

"These young guys need to really understand: If you've got a buddy that's out here and he wants to shoot [somebody] ... you need to grab your buddy and take him to the ground and take him home with you and talk him down. Period. Because there's a lot of young men in the penitentiary who wish they could take back the moment in time that they pulled the trigger."

Hardiman and Morris praised Tacarra for her bravery, saying the 6-year-old is more courageous than the men who had been shooting when she was hit. 

A bullet mars a window in the home of 6-year-old Tacarra Morgan, who was shot earlier this week. Morgan survived the shooting, but activists are calling for an end to violence against children and other citizens. [DNAinfo/Kelly Bauer]

"Our battle is just on every front," said Eric Russell, the president of Tree of Life Justice League of Illinois. The group works to help young people in the city. "Our children just are our future and our hope, and if you don't have any reservation about shooting their schools in residential areas, we have a real problem with that."

Russell said his group is asking people in the community to reach out, respect their life and the lives of others and think: "Be your brother's keeper, not his executioner."

Tree of Life is also trying to engage with parents and is encouraging them to hold their children accountable if they've taken part in shootings.

"If you have a shooter that's living in your basement and living in your house, you're part of the problem, too," Russell said. "That's a parenting problem."

Tacarra, Morris' "little sweet pea," survived the shooting, so Morris said he could forgive the shooters if they were to apologize to his family. And he's not worried for his other grandchildren, who gather in front of his home to ride bikes and play almost every night, he said.

After all, the shooter wasn't aiming for Tacarra, Morris said.

But he's sorry Tacarra won't be able to join her family and enjoy her cousin's birthday party on Saturday. They had set up an inflatable bouncy house — bright red, yellow and blue — in the vacant lot next to their home to celebrate.

Pointing to two bullet holes in his windows, Morris noted that he has a 10-year-old grandson who uses a wheelchair and frequently sits on the porch in front of those windows.

"If he'd been sitting right there?" Morris said. "We couldn't get him in the house that quick. From there to now ... that's all I know."

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