Mom of Shot Toddler: ‘This is More Than a Miracle'

The mother of a 3-year-old boy critically injured in a violent Chicago shooting spree that left 12 others wounded at city park last week said her son is doing "better than expected."

Deonta Howard -- known as "Tay-man" -- was shot in the jaw and listed in critical condition after witnesses said several gunmen opened fire at a group gathered at Cornell Square Park, on the 1800 block of W. 51st Street, shortly before 10:15 p.m. Thursday.

Four men, including one who allegedly fired a military style weapon, were charged with attempted murder for their alleged role in the mass shooting.

Tabari Young and Brad Jett, both 22, were each charged Tuesday with three counts of attempted murder and aggravated battery with a firearm. They join Bryon Champ, 21, and Kewane Gatewood, 20, who were charged Monday evening.

All were ordered held without bond during court appearances Tuesday.

"I just started crying," said Shamarah Leggett of when she learned about the charges. "Tears of joy not tears of pain."

Police said the shooting was retaliation for an earlier shooting in which Champ suffered a graze wound.

Family friend Mekiya Menefee said she was "thankful" after hearing about charges in the case.

"They need to think for a very very long time about what they did," Menefee said. "The violence, the guns, the crime needs to stop."

Leggett said doctors told her Howard will be needing surgeries until he's 13 and added he currently has stitches in his jaw, eye and nose.

"I feel like I'm the luckiest mother in the world," she said of her son's survival.

Leggett said Howard is "back to Deonta," but the toddler isn't taking things lightly.

"Mom, they shot me," he told Leggett after he came out of anesthesia. He also refused to go to the park when his mother offered.

"It ain't never going to the same," Leggett said."It ain't ever going to be the same."

Howard was scheduled to start pre-school at Fulton Elementary School Monday.

"They're going to save his seat," she said. "They're waiting for him."

While things are looking up for Howard, the shooting has left Leggett and her family uneasy about their neighborhood, and has prompted plans to move.

"Definitely going to move," Leggett said. "I don't feel safe."

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