Near West Side

Loved ones remember life of 7-year-old shot to death on Near West Side

“He told his stepdad don’t touch the game I’ll be right back, please don’t touch the game,” she said. “He never came back”

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Family and loved ones of 7-year-old Jai’mani Amir Rivera gathered in his memory on Wednesday, one day after he was shot to death outside his residence in Chicago's Near West Side neighborhood.

“I can say he loved Spider-Man and he was about to start football in August with all the boys,” said his aunt Daniela, who asked us not to use her last name. “That’s all he talked about was football.”

His family elaborated on his interest in video games as well.

“He was real crazy over Fortnite that’s all he do was played the game on PS5,” she said. “Before that happened to him he was playing a game, my mom [grandmother] called him down for something.”

The young boy was shot and killed on the sidewalk Tuesday afternoon around 3 p.m. near his family’s apartment at Oakley Square.

“He told his stepdad don’t touch the game I’ll be right back, please don’t touch the game,” she said. “He never came back.”

Chicago police said they believe the shooting was random. Investigators believe the shots were fired from outside and that Rivera was not the intended target.

“A random shooting of a 7-year-old is unacceptable,” CPD Supt. Larry Snelling said. “We really have to think about who we are as a society when our kids are being shot in the street.”

People who live at the apartment complex are now banding together, calling for more action to protect their community. The residents said they're shaken and traumatized by the ongoing violence that has plagued for the area for years.

“We all fear for our lives over here,” one resident said. “It’s terrifying. Kids can’t come outside and play on a nice day you know without us worrying if they’re going to get shot at or something bad happens to them.”

So far this year, Chicago police said 127 children and teens under the age of 18 have been shot, 17 of them fatally. Some of the cases remain unsolved, including those of 5-year-old Reign Ware and 9-year-old Ariana Molina.

“In the three weeks’ time frame, a 5-year-old little girl was killed right down the street and now 7-year-old Jai’mani,” Saleshea Peterson, founder of the Hug a Child Make a Child organization told NBC Chicago. “We have to do something for our city.”

As residents cry out for more resources and support, they’re now making a desperate plea for justice.

“Jai’mani Rivera can not go unnoticed,” she said. “We have to turn the killer in.”

Peterson is organizing a peace march that is scheduled for Friday at 1 p.m. at Western and Jackson.

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