CHICAGO (CBS) — A shooting in the southern suburb of Matteson claimed the life of a 9-year-old boy.
Police have not released any details about what led up to the shooting, saying only that it happened Thursday night.
The victim’s grandmother identified the boy as O’Mauri Jones Brown.
Denise Jones said her granddaughter got into a fight with another girl at school, and the other girl gathered some friends and drove to Jones’ house.
The girls started fighting outside the house and then started walking back to their car, and as her granddaughter was walking back to the house, a teenager who was with the other girls pulled out a gun and started shooting.
“We started running,” he said.
Jones said that O’Mauri was not part of the fight.
“He did nothing. As soon as my son turned his back, the guy started shooting,” he said. “The young man never said anything while they were fighting. He never tried to break them up. He never intervened.”
Jones described his grandson as “an amazing kid.”
“Honor roll student since he was in school. He loved to dance. He had a great bond with his mom. A great bond with us. He was a little bit housebound,” he said.
Ironically, Jones said her grandson stayed with her when his mother moved to Chicago because she thought it was safer in Matteson.
“So his mom moved away and he stayed here, because he didn’t want to go to Chicago, because he was afraid he was going to get shot,” she said.
O’Mauri was a student at Arcadia Elementary School in Olympia Fields.
“The Matteson School District 162 family is saddened and shocked to learn that a fight between the youth occurred last night,” district superintendent Dr. Blondean Y. Davis said in a statement. “Participants took the fight to a neighborhood in Matteson and a nine-year-old boy, a third-grader at Arcadia Elementary School in Olympia Fields, was shot and later killed.”
“Today, the District assembled a crisis team of social workers, counselors and psychologists who were at the school to speak to any student, teacher, staff member or parent who wished to do so. The team will be available again on Tuesday, 30 May when school resumes and for as long as necessary,” Davis added. “We will keep this beautiful little boy, his family, classmates, friends and teachers in our hearts, thoughts and prayers.”
Ashley Bland, whose 8-year-old son goes to Arcadia with O’Mauri, said she didn’t know how to tell him when she found out that O’Mauri had been killed.
“I just had to tell him, ‘Well, first of all, I love you and I’ll try to protect you from whatever I can that could hurt you, but your friend was accidentally shot. He was killed,'” she said. “He looked at me, asking like, ‘are you for real?’ He was like, ‘are you playing?’ And I’m like, ‘I’m sorry’.”
Bland said it feels like a nightmare.
“Honestly, I watched him break down in front of me, and I’ve never seen him obviously in that kind of pain, and I don’t think I’ve ever experienced that kind of pain. So having that raw emotion and knowing that you have to sit there and hurt your son from That way, it’s like… but it’s life. Unfortunately, it’s the life we live in,” he said.
During a press conference, the village president, Sheila Chalmers, offers her condolences to the family of the 9-year-old boy.
“We are heartbroken, we are all in mourning. I give my condolences to the family,” he said. “Everything that happens to our children happens to me.”
Matteson Police Chief Michael Jones also confirmed that a 20-year-old victim was admitted to St. James Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and was also shot during the same incident.
Police are working with the boy’s school to provide grief counselors for both the school and the district.
They are asking anyone with additional information to contact the Criminal Investigation Division at 708-503-3130.