Akeem Briscoe murder: 7-year-old boy killed by stray bullet 4 days after funeral for his dad
CHICAGO - Seven-year-old Akeem Briscoe was hit hard by his father’s death last week after heart surgery.
"He said he didn’t want his dad to be gone and he wanted to be with him," the boy’s uncle Terribia Misters said. "Now he’s where his dad’s at."
Akeem was killed Wednesday night when a gang squabble in an alley erupted into gunfire, sending a bullet through the window of the boy’s Humboldt Park home.
The second grader is the 12th child 13 and younger to be killed in Chicago this year, and comes just days after an 8-year-old boy was killed during an accidental shooting in Bronzeville on the South Side.
"He just loved going and playing with the kids, doing different things," Misters said. "He had a dog he called Angel, now he’s an angel himself."
A law enforcement source said the shooting in the 2600 block of West Potomac Avenue may be related to an internal dispute among members of the Maniac Latin Disciples and could be linked to two other recent shootings.
Four men were taken into custody shortly after the shooting, apparently all of them on one side of the gunfight, the source said. The opposing group remained at large, the source said.
Another source said investigators have not yet identified who fired the shot that killed the boy.
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Akeem was in the bathroom washing his hands for dinner when the bullet struck him in the abdomen around 8:20 p.m., Chicago police said. He was taken to Stroger Hospital, where he died hours later.
The boy’s mother and older brother and sister were in the house at the time, Misters said. "They had to see their little brother get shot. On his way to the hospital he said, ‘I’m OK.’"
A neighbor across the street said she heard the shots. It sounded like a "back and forth kind of thing," she said, and she counted between 10 to 12 shots in all.
"I have a bad habit of counting when I hear noises like that," said the neighbor, who did not want to be identified. "It’s different. It’s not like it’s a balloon popping."
The woman came outside after the shooting and heard a woman crying for help before police arrived. To herself, the woman said: "Please, not another kid."
Misters said he spends most nights at the Humboldt Park home and rushed back there from his dishwashing job at a University of Chicago dining hall after his sister called.
His last conversation with Akeem had been about homework and a field trip coming up on Thursday. His mom had his lunch all packed.
"He asked me, ‘Uncle Tibbs, you should come with me,’" Misters said. "He was so excited to go. Life is short. He’s gone so early … "Life is not fair. Innocent kids shouldn’t be getting killed."
Another uncle, Dwaine Dembry who lives in Peoria, said he got a call from his sister a little after 10 p.m. when Akeem was in surgery. Dwaine and his wife, Jessica Dembry, left for Chicago.
They had just spent the past weekend here for the funeral for Akeem’s father. They remember how Akeem and other children there cried. "The sounds that came out of those kids, I don’t think I’ll ever forget that," Jessica Dembry said.
Afterward, Dwaine Dembry recalled talking about how Akeem would grow to fill his father’s shoes. "I always imagined him to be just like his father, 6-foot-5, a big boy."
When his family left for Peoria, Dembry’s children didn’t want to go. "They were just enjoying each other’s company because they don’t see each other that often," he said. "They wanted to spend more time together and I was going to make it happen."
The families planned to see each other again for Thanksgiving in Peoria. "It was going to be our first Thanksgiving together in a long, long time," Dwaine Dembry said.
Jessie Fuentes, director of the violence prevention and strategic intervention unit for the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, came to the house on Thursday morning with a team of colleagues who respond to violence in the neighborhood.
"You want to make sure the family has everything they need," she said.
The group helps families financially, tries to ensure that there are no retaliatory shootings and, in this case, helps families find a temporary place to stay.
Akeem was a second grader a Newberry Math and Science Academy in Lincoln Park.
In a statement sent out to the Newberry community, adminstrators said the school was working with CPS’ crisis management unit to provide grief counseling and support to students and staff members
"Our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time. This loss is sure to raise many emotions, concerns, and questions for the entire school, especially our students," the statement said.
The death cast a pall over a City Hall news conference that was supposed to be about Halloween safety. Mayor Lori Lightfoot appealed to those who "know who did this" to come forward.
Citing Akeem’s murder and the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old the same evening on the South Side, the mayor "these two boys should have been in school today anxiously awaiting a weekend of fun. They should have gone on celebrating every year afterwards. Instead, today, two families have been ripped apart. Tragic loss that the families are dealing with and a city, once again, is mourning the loss of two of our precious young people."
"This didn’t happen in a vacuum," she added. "There are people out there…within the sound of my voice who know exactly what happened. You must, must come forward. These families are deeply grieving. Come forward for them."