Mother of wounded toddler: `He`s doing better than I expected` - FOX 35 News Orlando

Mother of 3-year-old park shooting victim: It`s a miracle he survived

Posted: Updated:
Shamarah Leggette Shamarah Leggette
3-year-old Deonta Howard (Photo courtesy of Pastor Corey Brooks). 3-year-old Deonta Howard (Photo courtesy of Pastor Corey Brooks).
3-year-old Deonta Howard (Photo courtesy of Pastor Corey Brooks). 3-year-old Deonta Howard (Photo courtesy of Pastor Corey Brooks).
From left: Kewane Gatewood, 20; Byron Champ, 21; Tabari Young, 22 and Brad Jett, 22. From left: Kewane Gatewood, 20; Byron Champ, 21; Tabari Young, 22 and Brad Jett, 22.
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Thursday night's park shooting made headlines everywhere and gave Chicago a negative image on the world stage. Now, there's a bit of closure for some of the 13 victims as four men have been charged and held without bail.

PREVIOUS STORY: 4 charged, held without bail in shooting of 13 in Chicago park

Kewane Gatewood, Bryon Champ, Brad Jett, and Tabari Young were all in court Tuesday. Prosecutors said it was only by the grace of God that none of the 13 people shot last Thursday were killed.

Meanwhile, the mother of the youngest victim -- 3-year-old Deonta Howard -- held a news conference outside Mt. Sinai Hospital Tuesday where her young son continues to recover after being shot in the mouth.

RELATED: 13 wounded in gang shooting at Chicago park, assault rifle used

"He's doing better than I expected," Shamarah Leggette told reporters. " He's running around, he's playing...very active. He's back to Deonta."

"When he woke up from sedation he was just like ‘Ma, they shot me,'" she says. "He pointed to his face like ‘they shot me right here in my face.' I'm like, ‘But, you okay?' He like, ‘yeah, I'm okay.'

"Today, I was asking him if he wants to go back to the park. He was like, ‘No, ma, I don't want to go back to that park.'"

Shamarah Leggette said her son has many surgeries ahead. She says she is praying for the men responsible for the shooting and has a message for them: whatever problems they were dealing with, shooting up a park was not the way to respond.

As police continue to search for a fifth individual believed to have been involved in the shooting, we are learning more about how police tracked down their suspects.

Tilden Career Community Academy is just blocks away from the shooting scene and after the attack, teachers and staff were told to listen carefully in the hallways and lunchroom for any students talking about Thursday night's mass shooting.

Students who did were pulled aside privately and questioned for information. Police say that information helped solve the case.

According one boy's mother, it was another student who provided a tip that one of the alleged gunman--Bryon Champ--had been shot earlier Thursday. Police say Champ then gathered friends and shot up the park in revenge against rival gang members.

A friend said Champ was shot by someone who ran up on him and another man at 52nd and Marshfield.

"I seen him standing down there and he showed me it," the suspect's friend Jazmine Owens told FOX 32 News. "It was a bullet wound, he showed it to me. On his left or right leg I'm not sure what it was. He said he got shot and it nipped his leg."

Authorities said Champ and Kewane Gatewood were arrested Saturday night hiding out in an abandoned building, which the city just boarded up on Tuesday.

Tabari Young and Brad Jett were arrested later.

Gatewood lives in the basement of his parents' home just down the block, and police allege Gatewood kept the AK-47 used in the shooting under his bed. Police searched the home, but did not find the weapon.

Friends and relatives say Gatewood who was going to culinary school could not have involved in the shooting.

"Heartbroken, period. My cousin is not the type of person would do something like that," Gatewood's cousin Kiara Simmons says. "This is a rough area around here, but he's awesome and good guy."

Shamarah Leggette said when she was informed of the arrests, she cried for joy, but now because of the dangers in her neighborhood, she plans to move.

Follow Us!

Share Your Photos & Video

Powered by WorldNow

35 Skyline Drive
Lake Mary, FL 32746

Phone: (407) 644-3535
News Tips: (866) 55-FOX35

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices