CHICAGO -- Four weeks after 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee was allegedly lured into a Chicago alley and killed, police on Friday announced the arrest of a man they characterized as a gang member in the boy's death.
Corey Morgan, 27, is in custody on a first-degree murder charge, police Superintendent Garry McCarthy told reporters. Morgan is one of at least three people authorities have linked to young Tyshawn's slaying; one of the others, whom police did not name, is in custody on an unrelated charge, while a third individual is at large.
Regardless, McCarthy characterized Friday's announcement about Morgan's arrest as "good news" that follows a horrific killing.
"This is a crime that shook our city," the superintendent said. "It was an act of barbarism, the assassination of a 9-year-old child as a gang retaliation to get back at his father. Tyshawn Lee was failed on many, many levels."
The boy was shot in the face and back on Nov. 2 as he headed to a park down the street from his grandmother's house to play basketball, the Rev. Michael Pfleger said at the child's funeral.
He was "lured" into an alley in what McCarthy had previously called "probably the most abhorrent, cowardly, unfathomable crime that I've witnessed in 35 years of policing."
Chicago was called the murder capital of the United States after it registered 503 homicides in 2012, more than any other city. Those numbers have ticked down, though the FBI's 2014 statistics showing 411 killings still outpaced other cities (such as New York with 333 and Los Angeles with 260) with higher populations.
The Auburn-Gresham neighborhood, where gangs battle over turf and the right to sell drugs, and where Tyshawn was gunned down, is among the most dangerous.
Even for a city accustomed to gun violence, Tyshawn's shooting was considered beyond the pale.
Pfleger, a Catholic priest and local faith leader, called it "a new low."
"A baby was executed," said Pfleger, an outspoken advocate against gun violence. "A baby was assassinated right behind us in the alley."
One longtime resident, Deronce Curd, had trouble coming to grips with the idea of gangs going after children.
"How can a little boy, 9 years old, defend himself?" Curd asked. "This is just -- I'm speechless to what is going on right now."