CHICAGO -- A 39-year-old convicted felon appeared to be “hunting” for somebody to shoot shortly before he opened fire and killed a 9-year-old boy as he played in front of his Chicago home, a prosecutor said Tuesday.
Darrell Johnson has been charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Janari Ricks on Friday evening in the Cabrini-Green neighborhood. Johnson was ordered held without bond at a court hearing on Tuesday.
Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy told the judge that security video footage shows a man wearing a mask who they believe was Johnson looking through fences and into courtyards, apparently searching for his intended target.
“He went hunting” and “was looking for somebody to shoot,” Murphy said.
When the gunman opened fire, several people tried to run away, including Janari, but one bullet struck the boy in the back and exited through his chest, while another hit him in the arm, prosecutors said. The child was pronounced dead soon after.
Authorities have said Janari was not the gunman's intended target.
Witnesses identified Johnson as the gunman, Murphy said, including one who observed a man “wobbling” down an alley after the shooting. He explained to Cook County Circuit Judge Susana Ortiz that Johnson limps because he was previously shot in the leg.
The gunman was also captured on video climbing out a vehicle registered to Johnson’s girlfriend before the shooting, then fleeing the scene in the same vehicle.
Johnson's attorney, Steve Greenberg, declined to discuss the case, saying only: "It is awful when a child or anyone gets shot (and) it is just as bad when the wrong guy gets charged.”
Johnson has twice been imprisoned in Illinois, for aggravated vehicular hijacking and felony gun charge convictions, the prosecutor said.
Separately on Tuesday, a judge ordered a third suspect in the July 4 shooting death of 7-year-old Natalia Wallace held without bond. Natalia was killed outside her grandmother’s home in the Austin neighborhood in the city’s West Side.
Terrell Boyd, 30, is charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery/discharge of a firearm in Natalia's death. He was taken into custody on Monday in Racine, Wisconsin, and extradited to Chicago.
The children were among 105 Chicago homicide victims in July and part of a grim roster of 38 juvenile homicide victims in the city so far this year. They are also among the city's five homicide victims under the age of 10 years old.
The story has been corrected to show the July 4 shooting happened on the city’s West Side, not the South Side.