‘It has to stop’: Family of Gary teen killed by stray bullet speaks out

GARY, Ind. — As police search for the shooters who they say inadvertently killed 14-year-old Arion Lilly on Thursday, the reality of his death is still sinking in for his family.

“He was awesome an incredible kid. Went to school every day and got good grades. Loved basketball, he had big dreams,” his mom Cheryl Freeman said.

Arion was a walking home from a barbershop, and was less than a block away around 4 p.m. Thursday when someone in a nearby vehicle fired shots at another car. A stray bullet struck the teen, killing him. Police and family say this was an innocent boy who was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.

“No kid coming home from getting their hair cut should be gunned down because idiots want to kill each other," his aunt Lisa Howard said.

Cheryl Freeman says she moved her family and her five kids from Chicago to Gary three years ago to get them away from the violence of the city. Arion was preparing to graduate from 8th grade in June. Graduation balloons now mark the spot where he was shot.

The oldest boy in his family, his death has left a void, especially for the younger siblings who looked up to him.

In the first quarter of 2019, Gary police say 17 people have been murdered and 30 have been shot. Gary Mayor Karen Freeman Wilson said Sunday she has made cracking down on gun violence her number one priority, but the community has to step up.

“You can have a thousand police officers and if you don’t have any witnesses, people who are willing to come forward, then those officers cannot do their jobs,” Wilson said.

Gary police say Arion was an innocent victim of a senseless shooting, and have released a photo of the car they think they was involved. Anyone with information is urged to contact Detective Cpl. James Bond of the Lake/Gary Metro Homicide Unit at 219-755-3852 or 866-274-6347.

“I just want everybody going forward to think about what you’re doing. And who it might effect.” Ernst Dextra, stepfather said

Friends of the family have set up a GoFundMe page to help with the services and burial.

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