Accompanied by an attorney and representatives from the anti-violence group CeaseFire, an 18-year-old man turned himself into police for questioning in connection with a Tuesday night shooting that injured two young girls.
The teen, who has not been publicly named because he hasn't been charged with a crime, was reportedly "marked for death" on the street after the shooting that injured Tishona Turner, 13, and Nakia Polk, 12, CeaseFire's Bob Jackson said at a press conference.
The teen's family contacted CeaseFire out of fear for his life, saying people in the neighborhood have decided he was the shooter.
Police call the teen a person of interest, but CeaseFire said he's already been convicted on the street and become a retaliation target. His family said it's all a mistake.
"My son is a church-going young man," the teen's mother said through tears. "[He is] vice president of the usher board at our church. Anybody that knows me knows I keep a strong hold on my children."
Jackson told reporters the teen was "really nervous," and that he knows "this incident could dictate whether he spends the rest of his life in jail or goes free."
When he turned himself in for questioning, the young man was accompanied by his attorney, pastor and both parents, and spent all day in a safe-house.
The group went on the defensive in June after the Chicago Sun-Times reported that at least six employees of CeaseFire Illinois have been charged with crimes over the last five years while on the organization’s payroll.
"We have a low margin for error," Tio Hardiman, the group's director, said at the time. He added that ex-offenders have a unique sense of empathy for the people they try to help.
The two girls at the center of the teen's surrender were were walking on West 117th Street, near Cooper Park, Tuesday evening when someone from inside a passing car began shooting randomly.
Polk was shot twice in the stomach and was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where she was listed in critical condition. She was later stabilized.
Jackson told reporters Thursday that the young man may or may not be charged in the shooting, but repeated multiple times that CeaseFire's primary concern right now is that he remains safe.
CeaseFire and the Chicago Police Department are set to begin their official partnership Friday.