CHICAGO — Austin Rogers' family says no matter how hard you try to keep your children safe, there’s danger lurking everywhere, after the 15-year-old Simeon Career Academy freshman was gunned down Saturday night.
Thinking it would keep him safe, Austin’s mother always told him to come home before dark, especially on summer days when things start to go bad on the streets in their West Englewood neighborhood.
Austin was heading home around 8 p.m. Saturday night, walking with his friends near the 2300 block of W. 68th Street, when a black Nissan came out of a nearby alley. When the car's occupants started shooting, Austin ran through the alley and towards his home a few houses away. He was shot in the back.
"This is your town. Why you want to kill your own people growing up? When I die these kids have to carry on. But you’re taking them out. You’re killing them. Why?" his stepfather Charles Smith said.
Smith said he thought the kids may have been targeted.
"Whoever went after them, knew their routine," Smith said.
Austin had dreams of being an NBA player and helping the Bulls win another championship. As a freshman at Simeon, all he did was go to school, come home and play basketball, according to Smith. He worked a summer job, and mostly kept to himself.
The last time Charles saw him, they were laughing and Austin was washing the dishes. Smith says no matter how many police officers are in this neighborhood, the shootings will continue until people come forward.
"I tell all the kids you gotta be careful out here in the street. 'Cause there’s danger everywhere. Danger lurking everywhere," Smith said.