Deonta Howard, a 3-year-old boy affectionately called Tay Man by his family, had a bullet travel through his ear and exit his mouth Thursday night in Cornell Square Park in Chicago.
He was the most seriously injured of 13 people shot by gunmen near the basketball court, but he is expected to live. One witness said the men were in a gray sedan, another told the Chicago Sun-Times that shooters ran through the park.
The child was in critical condition late Thursday night, according to the Chicago Fire Department. He did not sustain brain damage. He was the only child hit, but two teens were also among those shot and 10 adults were hit. A 17-year-old girl was shot in the foot and a 15-year-old boy was shot in the arm, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The boy’s cousin, Porsche Chester, told the Tribune: “He didn’t like haircuts because he has a big head. But he is extremely smart. He didn’t have that [head] for nothing.”
The boy’s uncle, Julian Harris, 22, told the Sun-Times Thursday that dreadlocked gunmen in a gray sedan fired at him at the corner of Wood and 51st. The sedan turned the corner and the men started shooting at people in the park.
“They hit the light pole next to me but I ducked down and ran into the house,” he said. “They’ve been coming round here looking for people to shoot every night—just gang-banging stuff. It’s what they do.”
Another uncle, Jerome “J Money” Wood, was shot to death Sept. 2 in the Woodlawn neighborhood. Wood was a rapper affiliated with Def Jam artist Durk “Lil Durk” Banks, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. His sister, Lavada Hardeman, 18, told the Sun-Times, “I can’t catch a break.”
The family’s pastor, Corey Brooks, went to the hospital Friday to comfort the family.
He told the Sun-Times: “They’re frustrated, upset, and hurt, and disappointed that this is just happening over and over and over in our community.”
ABC7 Chicago morning show reporter Jessica D’Onofrio tweeted Friday that Howard was out of surgery and stabilized at Mount Sinai hospital.