Murder charge in shooting of Chicago teen at basketball court

SUN-TIMES MEDIA WIRE - On a sunny afternoon two weeks ago, Tororicius Berry walked up to Kejuan Thomas on a South Side basketball court and shot the 16-year-old dead, then stood over Thomas and continued firing, prosecutors said Friday.

Multiple witnesses, some as young as 10, told police they saw Berry walk out from behind the Bradley Park fieldhouse toward the courts on the afternoon of Aug. 16, Assistant State’s Attorney Jamie Santini said at a bond hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

Berry fired at Thomas from close range, striking the teen in the head, the prosecutor said.

“As Kejuan Thomas lay mortally wounded on the basketball court (Berry) stood over the victim and continued to fire bullets directly into the 16-year-old, unarmed victim as multiple victims looked on,” Santini said.

Berry, 25, fled the scene. Thomas suffered wounds to his head, neck, shoulder and hand; he was dead before emergency medical workers arrived.

Three witnesses identified Berry as the shooter in a police lineup, Santini said, and another witness said they saw Berry fleeing the park with a gun around the time of the murder.

Judge Joseph Panarese ordered Berry held without bond on a charge of first-degree murder.

Santini offered no motive for the shooting. Court records identify Berry as a member of the Gangster Disciples street gang, but friends said Thomas was not in a gang.

The Tilden Career Academy sophomore got A’s and B’s and was on the school basketball team. He hoped to play his way into a college scholarship.

“He was a good kid, never a gangbanger,” his coach, Keith Johnson, said of Thomas days after the shooting. “He was a good kid and really loved basketball. He could also draw and dance really well.”

Thomas lived in Parkway Gardens, but frequently traveled the six miles to Bradley Park because he felt it was safer, friends said.