CHICAGO (FOX 32 / AP) — A Chicago seventh-grader featured in an anti-violence campaign was shot in the back by a stray bullet outside his home.
Last Friday night, Zarriel Trotter was caught in the middle of what police call a "heated argument" down the street from his home. Trotter was walking along West Jackson Boulevard in the South Austin neighborhood when he was shot in the back. He was rushed to Mt. Sinai Hospital in critical condition where he underwent emergency surgery.
The 13-year-old remains in the hospital Monday night where FOX 32 is told his condition is improving. He was just 11 years old when the PSA was filmed and at that young age, he still had the fear of being shot.
Now, his fear has become a reality. But not just for him.
“I never think that he would get shot,” said Zarriel’s friend Jason Newman.
Trotter is an athlete and often shoots hoops with his friends at Columbus Park, which is just one block away from where he was shot.
Newman lives across the street from Trotter in the South Austin neighborhood and says they know they are taking a chance every time they step outside.
“When it’s night time people be shooting out here and I think if I come outside, they start shooting,” Newman said.
Two years ago, trotter spoke out against the violence in Chicago in a public service announcement.
“Can you please just stop killing people,” Trotter said in the PSA.
The creators of the PSA say they wanted to give a voice to those most affected by violence in the street - our youth.
“The most disheartening thing was if I grow up, most of these kids don't have an expectation of growing up,” said Fay Ferguson of Burrell Communications Group.
At the time, the 11-year-old had some words of wisdom for the gunmen, which is advice that wasn't taken Friday night.
“Keep their hands to themselves and handle what you got to handle with your words instead of your fists or whatever you are going to hurt this person with,” Trotter said in the PSA.
Also, in his PSA interview, Trotter said he wants to grow up and either be a clothing designer or artist to make money for himself and for others less fortunate.
No arrests have been made, and police are still investigating the crime.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that 70 other people have been shot in the city's Austin neighborhood this year.