Rutledge-German worried that her son's death wouldn't receive the same priority from police as Hadiya's murder because the boy lived in a tough part of town and had a more troubled past.

"I'm still in shock," she said. "I've shed a few tears, but not enough. I just can't accept it."

A resident on the block said dozens of teenagers frequently gather on the street, shooting dice, playing music and horsing around with each other.

Rutledge-German said she knows there are warring gang factions in the neighborhood.

On Tuesday, teenagers trickled in and out of the modest family home. Some wiped away tears as they expressed condolences to the boy's father.

Tywanda Small, 32, a friend and neighbor, described Cornelius as a funny teen who would brighten up a room. But she was outraged that he was dead and police had no one in custody.

"We can't keep these kids locked down in the house. They have to go out and live," she said, her voice rising with emotion. "It's been too many deaths this year and not that many arrests. It's not right."

Rutledge-German acknowledged that her son was supposed to be performing community service Monday night in the Back of the Yards neighborhood but decided to skip it.

His mother said she had recently said a prayer for her boy, the youngest of four children.

"I had said, 'Cornbread is stressing me out. I'm (going) to 'Let go and let God,'" Rutledge-German said. "God said, 'OK, I got you.'"

"Do you know how I feel? I'm questioning my faith."

Tribune reporters Rosemary Regina Sobol and Adam Sege contributed.

lbowean@tribune.com

asweeney@tribune.com