CHICAGO — Family, friends and faculty from Rudyard Kipling Elementary where 9-year-old Jarvis Watts attended school gathered Tuesday afternoon for a balloon release in honor of the little boy.

“It’s so hurting to see a nine-year-old to get shot like that, for a baby to die,” said Dorothy Wheeler, whose grandchildren were friends with Jarvis. “What’s going on in this world?”

Like others who attended, Wheeler said it was important to pay her respects to the little boy who died on New Year’s Day and allow her grandchildren to grieve the loss of their friend.

“I don’t know of the family, but I know of the kid, so I wanted to come out and show my respects,” Wheeler said.

According to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office, Jarvis’ death has been ruled a homicide.

The investigation into the deadly shooting began Sunday evening after Jarvis was found shot multiple times inside a Washington Heights home.  He was taken to Comer Children’s Hospital in critical condition, where he later died, according to police.

A family member told WGN the boy was shot three times. Police also said there were multiple other children and family members present during the incident.

Sources confirmed to WGN Investigates, a 27-year-old man allegedly left before police arrived, information first reported by CWB Chicago. They also confirmed five other children, between the ages of 2 and 10, were inside the home when Jarvis was shot.

Police have not released any other updates in the case, including who pulled the trigger or circumstances surrounding the incident. As of Sunday night, police said a gun had not yet been recovered and investigators were interviewing others present during the incident.

Neighbors and family shared with WGN they will remember Jarvis as a child who loved to play with his friends and was always happy and smiling.

“He was brilliant. He was so funny, smart, he knew a lot of stuff,” said Cayden Johnson.

Johnson told WGN he loved to play football with his friend and hangout outside, especially in the summertime.

“I remember he caught the ball on me, and I was like surprised, because he got that good,” said Cayden, who told WGN he will miss his friend dearly.

As classes resume at Rudyard Kipling on Jan. 9, students will be without their classmate, Jarvis.

On Tuesday, the school’s principal sent home a letter to parents, writing, “It is with deep sadness that we inform you about a recent loss to our school community. On January 1, 2023, Jarvis Watts passed away. Our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time. This loss is sure to raise many emotions, concerns, and questions for the entire school, especially our students.”

According to Principal LaWanda Bishop, the Chicago Public Schools’ Crisis Management Unit will work with their counselors, social workers, and psychologists to provide grief counseling and support to students and staff upon return to school next week.

“We are saddened by this loss and will do everything we can to help you and your student,” Bishop wrote.