Boy shot dead in Chicago was targeted in gang rivalry: police

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A 9-year-old boy was targeted by a gang and lured to an alley where he was shot dead earlier this week in what police on Thursday called a new low in Chicago's gang violence.

Initially, police had believed that the fourth grader, Tyshawn Lee, was killed in crossfire on Monday on the city's South Side.

At a news conference in the alley where the boy was killed, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said Lee's father was involved in a gang and that the death was linked to rivalry with another group. McCarthy said the father was not cooperating with police.

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"This is a different level," McCarthy said. "These are non-combatants now being assassinated... This is an innocent child, this is a 9-year-old child, targeted, lured to this spot and murdered. This is different."

Like a number of other U.S. cities, Chicago has seen an increase in murders this year. Police reported 391 murders from Jan. 1 to Oct. 25, up 18 percent from the same period of 2014.

See photos from Lee's memorial:

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9 year old boy killed in Chicago gang crossfire, Tyshawn Lee
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Boy shot dead in Chicago was targeted in gang rivalry: police

Corey Morgan

(Photo: Cook County Sheriff)

Tyshawn Lee

(Handout)

The Saint Sabina church and other area churches offer a reward at the site where Tyshawn Lee, 9, was fatally shot in Chicago's Gresham neighborhood on Monday. (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: People attend a candlelight vigil in memory of nine-year-old Tyshawn Lee outside his father's home on November 5, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Chicago Police Superitendant Garry McCarthy claims Lee was lured from a park into a nearby alley and executed because of his father's gang ties. Pierre Stokes, Lees father, denies being in a gang. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Tenesha Reed, mother of Demarius Reed reacts as Father Michael L. Pfleger of Saint Sabina church talks during a visit to the site were Tyshawn Lee, 9, was fatally shot in Chicago's Gresham neighborhood on Monday. (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
A makeshift memorial sits Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015 where Tyshawn Lee was fatally shot in Chicago. Lee, 9, was shot Monday in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)
A reward sign and messages hang Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015, near where Tyshawn Lee was fatally shot in Chicago. Lee, 9, was shot Monday in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)
Antwan Burns-Jones, 31, left, William Moore, 35, and David Lee, 23, on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015, as Moore adds a basketball to the memorial for Tyshawn Lee, 9, who was fatally shot in Chicago's Gresham neighborhood on Monday. (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Dean Andrews, right, chief of detectives with the Chicago Police Department, speaks to the media after the fatal shooting of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee on Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, in Chicago. (Brian Nguyen/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Chicago police investigate the fatal shooting of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee near 80th Place and Damen Avenue in Chicago on Monday, Nov. 2, 2015. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: A tear runs down the face of Pierre Stokes, the father of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee, during a candlelight vigil held outside his home in memory of his son on November 5, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Chicago Police Superitendant Garry McCarthy claims Lee was lured from a park into a nearby alley and executed because of his father's gang ties. Stokes denies being in a gang. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Police officers watch from across the street as people attend a candlelight vigil in memory of nine-year-old Tyshawn Lee outside his father's home on November 5, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Chicago Police Superitendant Garry McCarthy claims Lee was lured from a park into a nearby alley and executed because of his father's gang ties. Pierre Stokes, Lees father, denies being in a gang. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Pierre Stokes, the father of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee, gets a hug during a candlelight vigil held outside his home in memory of his son on November 5, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Chicago Police Superitendant Garry McCarthy claims Lee was lured from a park into a nearby alley and executed because of his father's gang ties. Stokes denies being in a gang. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, Nov. 10, 2015 -- People attend the funeral for 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee in Chicago, the United States, on Nov. 10, 2015. Tyshawn was shot at close range near his grandmother's home last week in South Chicago. Police said the child was lured into the alley and killed in retaliation for his father's alleged involvement in gang activity. (Xinhua/He Xianfeng via Getty Images)
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FBI Director James Comey said recently that violent crime may be up because police are holding back from aggressive tactics, fearful of being videotaped and accused of brutality, but other experts say the ready availability of guns, or a growing heroin trade may be to blame.

FATHER SAYS NOT IN A GANG

Lee's father, Pierre Stokes, appeared in the area after the news conference and was questioned by police. Stokes told reporters afterward that he was not a "gangbanger type" and could tell police nothing. He said he didn't know who would want to hurt him or his son.

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Father Michael Pfleger, a priest and social activist from the neighborhood, told reporters that in the past gang members left each other's children alone, but that the code had eroded.

"A baby was assassinated right behind us in this alley.... We have gone to a new low," said Pfleger, who offered to personally pay to relocate anyone who came forward with information but was scared of retaliation.

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McCarthy, Pfleger and community leaders pleaded for people to get over their fear and to abandon the no-snitch code of Chicago's streets and come forward with information about the murder. They offered a $35,000 award.

Over the Fourth of July weekend this year, police said, a 7-year-old Chicago boy was shot dead by gang members going after his father, who allegedly is in a gang. A Chicago man has been arrested and charged in that case.

(Writing by Fiona Ortiz; Editing by Sandra Maler and Eric Walsh)

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