As Chicago police search for the killers of a 15-year-old boy on the west side, his family sits at the bedside of his grandmother, who was given a new lease on life because of the shooting.
Antonio Johnson was killed in a flurry of bullets Sunday evening as he sat on the porch of his home in the 700 block of North Springfield. His mother was wounded in the drive-by attack.
Johnson had previously talked about his hope to offer a kidney to his maternal grandmother, who was, herself, a victim of gun violence 20 years ago.
“He said, 'Fine. It’s OK. It’s cool. I’ll give her one of mine,'' recalled the boy's grandfather, R.C. Wardlow.
And he did.
In fact, Antonio’s organs went to more than just his grandmother. Four other individuals, including a 15-year-old boy in Arkansas, received transplants thanks to the family’s decision to make him a donor after his death.
"He was just a giving person," his grandfather recalled. “Nice kid. Out of 15 years, never heard anything negative about him.”
Chicago police say they are seeking two brothers, aged 26 and 28. They may be driving a white, 2000 Cadillac STS with Illinois plates.
Neighbors near the shooting scene decried the violence in the area which they described as frightening.
"They don’t know what they do to the families," said resident Linda Fleming. "The families... It just tears the families up."
Rev. Gary Barren, whose New Vision Church is just a block from the shooting scene, said those doing the shooting have no regard for life.
"If you can be sitting on your porch enjoying a nice sunny day, and next thing you know you lose your son and you yourself get hurt, that tells you a lot about the community you live in," he said.
Antonio's grandfather spoke with pride about his grandson’s organ donation in the office of Secretary of State Jesse White, where he works on staff as a laborer. White, of course, is the state official in charge of the Illinois organ donation program. And he hailed the boy’s gift to his ailing grandmother as “heroic”.
"When you can give someone a second chance at life, you are classified as a hero," said White.
R.C. Wardlow admitted that he had never signed up to be an organ donor before. White rectified that on Thursday, proudly holding up Wardlow’s donor card. And as police continued their search for the gunmen who took the boy’s life, his grandfather issued a plea for their surrender.
"Give yourself up," he said. "Just think about it. If this was your family, wouldn’t you want closure?"