3-year-old shot in face in Chicago now afraid of nighttime

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Kids are scared of the dark. That’s normal. But Deonta Howard is now even more leery of nightfall.

The 3-year-old boy was shot in the face last week and now says that whenever the sun goes down in Chicago, people might get shot again.

His mom was taking him home from the hospital late Wednesday when reporters caught up with them. He told them he wants to go home to see grandma, but he says he’s not going back to the park in their Back of the Yards neighborhood on the South Side. That’s where two men allegedly opened fire on him last Thursday.

Bullets from an assault rifle and another gun wounded 13 people, police say. Two of the victims were 15 years old. Little Deonta was the youngest hit. Luckily, all survived.

Authorities think the violence may have been gang related.

Deonta was shy and gave brief, quiet answers. He was short on eye contact but long on bravery.

The flu shot he got at the hospital hurt worse than the gunshot wounds, Deonta told CNN affiliate WBBM. His face doesn’t hurt, he assured.

But his face defied his bravado.

The right side was so swollen that it pushed his nose off to the left. A big bandage covered his upper lip.

Tears streamed down his right cheek. It didn’t look like he was crying. The eye was swollen shut, irritated and watering, it appeared.

He will need surgeries for the next 15 to 20 years to correct the damage caused by a bullet that entered Deonta’s ear and exited through his cheek, his mother Shamarah Legget said. He has had two already.

“But it’s ok,” she said. “I can deal with anything, as long as my baby comes home.”

A reporter’s microphone stirred Deonta’s playfulness. He reached for it.

“I got shot,” he said into it. “Right here, right here, right here, right here.” He pointed to spots on his face.

Four men arrested

Police have arrested four men in connection with the shooting.

Two of the suspects — Tabari Young, 22, and Bryon Champ, 21 — fired shots onto a full basketball court, Chicago police said. Champ, is a documented gang member.

All four have been charged with attempted murder and aggravated battery with a firearm, police said.

Young is accused of firing the assault-style rifle. Police say Champ also fired a gun of some kind.

A third suspect, Kewane Gatewood, 20, is accused of supplying the assault weapon, and Brad Jeff, 22, was allegedly the lookout during the shooting, police said.

Deonta’s grandmother has made a plea to those fueling violence in Chicago.

“Y’all out here killing these innocent people, kids, parents, grandparents, mothers, fathers: It’s got to stop. You need to stop,” Semehca Nunn said.

Chicago bans some semiautomatic weapons and high-capacity magazines and restricts handguns.

The FBI’s annual crime report last week showed Chicago had 500 homicides in 2012, up from 431 in 2011 and more than any other American city. Chicago officials have said homicides this year are below the 2012 pace.

Still, Chicago does not have the highest homicide rate in the United States. That distinction belongs to Flint, Michigan, with one homicide for every 1,613 residents, according to the FBI data. Detroit is close behind, with one killing for every 1,832 residents.

In 2012, the number of violent crimes increased by 0.7%, compared with the previous year, according to the FBI figures.

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