Family mourns 8-year-old boy killed in Greater Grand Crossing shooting: ‘He was just trying to grow up’
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Family mourns 8-year-old boy killed in Greater Grand Crossing shooting: ‘He was just trying to grow up’

When Brandal Orr last spoke to his 8-year-old son, Bryson, they were looking forward to spending time as a family on Independence Day at the boy’s home in Greater Grand Crossing.

Instead, Bryson and his mother died that day, as did another mother, when several gunmen opened fire in the home, leaving two other little boys wounded and fighting for their lives.

“He was just an innocent kid living in a house,” Orr said. “I’m at a loss. I’m trying to understand what’s going on.”

Orr was working the night shift at an Amazon warehouse when one of his sons called him and said “someone just shot up the house.”

“I was so frustrated I threw my phone and broke it, smashed everything,” Orr said. “It was so devastating.”

Police have not yet released any motive for the shooting and said no one has been arrested.

About 6:15 a.m., officers responding to a ShotSpotter alert and 911 calls found two women, ages 42 and 24, and their children — ages 5 to 8 — injured inside a home in the 7100 block of South Woodlawn Avenue, Chicago Police Deputy Chief Don Jerome said shortly after the shooting.

According to police reports obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times, terrified witnesses inside the home told officers that at least four gunmen had “shot up the place.”

According to police reports, the ShotSpotter alert revealed at least 26 bullets. Shell casings were found in the street in front of the home, on the sidewalk, on the porch and inside the home.

Witnesses reportedly told detectives the shooters appeared to have left two vehicles on 72nd Street and fled after the shooting.

Officers administered first aid to Bryson, but Nakeeshia Strong, 45, Bryson’s mother, was taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where she died.

Another relative and the mother of the two surviving boys, 24-year-old Capri Edwards, died at the scene, officials said.

All of the boys were taken in critical condition to Comer Children’s Hospital, where Bryson died about seven hours after the attack.

Strong’s 19-year-old son, Frank Mixon, told reporters that day that she was “the love of his life, hands down.”

“She was working day and night, taking care of kids who weren’t her kids, taking care of kids who were her kids,” Mixon said.

“A happy, loving and sweet baby”

Orr described his son as a “happy, loving and sweet” child who loved playing soccer.

“We bought him everything he asked for,” Orr said. “He was a good kid, very smart.”

Orr said Bryson and his father saw each other every day in person or via FaceTime.

They always greeted each other with a special handshake: crossing their fists and “bumping” their hands, and at the end both of them touching their hearts and saying “I love you.”

“He was a normal kid who liked to play,” Orr said. “He was just trying to get better.”

Orr stressed the importance of bringing justice to those responsible for the killings.

The shooters “came with the intent to kill innocent people,” Orr said. “They need to be brought to justice.”

A tougher stance on gun violence

That sentiment was echoed by Mayor Brandon Johnson, who took a more forceful stance on gun violence Monday after more than 100 people were shot, including 19 killed, over the long holiday weekend. The mayor said there will be “consequences” for those responsible for “causing havoc on my streets.”

The mayor was out of town Thursday night, but on Friday he joined Chicago Police Inspector Larry Snelling to search the block where the attack occurred in Greater Grand Crossing.

Another fatal shooting this weekend occurred just three miles south in the Chatham neighborhood, leaving a man dead and a teenager injured.

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About 11:50 p.m. Sunday, two teens, 18 and 16, were arguing with someone in the 700 block of East 89th Place when the person opened fire, hitting them both, police said. The 18-year-old died.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Police said that around 11:50 p.m. Sunday, two teenagers, ages 18 and 16, were arguing with someone in the 700 block of East 89th Place when the person they were arguing with opened fire, wounding them both.

Police said the 18-year-old was shot twice in the chest and was taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where he died.

The 16-year-old was shot in the thigh and taken to the same hospital in good condition, authorities said.

Police closed the street while they investigated. On Monday afternoon, shreds of red police tape were still attached to fences and posts at both ends of the block. Yellow police tape had been tossed into a trash bin in a nearby alley. Used fireworks lay on the sidewalk after a weekend of celebrations.

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Yellow police tape in a trash bin in Chatham on Monday. Police closed off the block as they investigated Sunday’s shooting.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

One neighbor said the block was usually quiet, but the shooting on Sunday woke her up. Another neighbor said it was sad to see young people being victims of gun violence.

Pastor Corey Brooks, founder of Project HOOD, reached out to the Orr family and others who lost loved ones over the long holiday weekend.

“I’ve reached out to the families to let them know what we can do to help them. … We can help them and be a support system for them. We’re more than willing to do that,” Brooks said.