By Steve Schmadeke
9:14 PM CDT, August 20, 2013
A 15-year-old boy jumped from his bike and opened fire after a passenger in a car issued an apparent taunt, but the bullets struck a 7-year-old child who had just returned from riding bikes with his cousin, authorities and family said Tuesday.
Cook County prosecutors said Lavante Jackson was tied to the Sunday night shooting on the West Side by two eyewitnesses and the GPS bracelet he was wearing as part of his bail on juvenile drug charges.
At a bond hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building, Jackson appeared dazed as Judge Donald Panarese Jr. had to repeat his name twice before the defendant acknowledged it was him. Jackson was charged as an adult with aggravated battery with a gun.
"He's not a bad kid," Jackson's mother, Erika, said while sobbing outside court.
Authorities said Jackson's path crossed that of Tyvion Jackson, 7, after Tyvion returned from a bike ride to his family's home in the 4200 block of West Fifth Avenue. Across the street, Jackson was on a bike with a group of boys outside Sumner Elementary Math & Science Community Academy in the West Garfield Park area.
As a car pulled up to the school about 9 p.m., a boy leaned out of an open window and yelled, "What you gonna do about it now?" said Assistant State's Attorney Amanda Pillsbury.
Tyvion's 11-year-old cousin, who was standing on the porch outside Tyvion's family home, heard an apparent friend of Jackson's yell at the 15-year-old to come back because the car was returning, Pillsbury said. Jackson got off his bike, ran over to the sidewalk and began shooting at the car as it passed, she said.
Tyvion, an incoming second-grader at Legacy Charter Elementary School, was hit in the chest and arm as he stood in the doorway of his home. He escaped serious injury and returned home Monday morning after being treated at Mount Sinai Hospital.
"He's a kid. Kids are supposed to be able to play outdoors," his mother, Tasha McDuffie, told reporters Monday.
She said her son is now afraid to go outside and the family is considering moving out of the neighborhood.
He's the 10th child age 7 or younger to be shot in Chicago in less than two months, according to a Tribune analysis.
Jackson was identified by name within minutes of the shooting by two eyewitnesses, Pillsbury said. Both later identified Jackson in a photo grouping, while one of them was also able to identify him in a police lineup, she said.
The judge ordered Jackson held on $900,000 bail.
His mother repeatedly expressed sympathy for Tyvion's family for the shooting but said she could not believe her son fired a gun in a neighborhood filled with his friends.
"He just lost his best friend over there," she told reporters. "He got it tattooed on his forehead, on his face."
Court records show Jackson has a tattoo near his right eye that reads "RIP" and another near his left eye that reads "Tonio."
Jackson was charged in juvenile court in February with possession of a controlled substance and a second similar charge was added later in the year, according to records. As a condition of his release on the second charge, he was required to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.
One eyewitness noticed the bracelet on the gunman's ankle, Pillsbury said, and authorities were able to place Jackson at the school at the time of the shooting with GPS. Jackson also had a 2 p.m. Sunday curfew, seven hours before the shooting, she said.
Jackson was arrested at his home Monday after his mother called authorities to tell them her son was ready to turn himself in, records show.
On Tuesday, Erika Jackson, who said she works and attends school, said she did her best to keep a watch over her son.
"I got to stop going to school? I got to stop going to work to follow my kids around? Then we'll be in poverty forever," she said.
Tribune reporter Jeremy Gorner contributed.
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