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CHICAGO – Community leaders are calling for neighbors to step up and help identify the gunman who shot and killed a 3-year-old boy in Austin Saturday night.

Police say 3-year-old Mekhi James was riding in the car with his 27-year-old father on the 600 block of North Central Avenue around 6:30 p.m. Saturday when someone in a Blue Honda fired shots into their vehicle.

Police said the father is believed to be the intended target, but he only suffered a graze wound to the abdomen and self-transported to West Suburban Hospital. But his young son died of his wounds.

The outrage over a toddler being shot and killed brought pastors and community activists out to the block where it happened Sunday to denounce the violence, and offer a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

Community Activist Andrew Holmes also lost a child to gun violence, and seemed shaken by the child’s killing.

“It takes a lot to be a father, whether you’re with your children or not. It took a lot to feed them babies, to care for them babies, to nurse them babies when they’re sick,” Holmes said. “But excuse my language: it took a damn fool to discharge that weapon.”

“A line was crossed,” said Rev. Ira Acree, Greater St. John Bible Church. “It would be an ultimate contradiction to pastor in this neighborhood and not say a word about a three-year-old who can not defend himself and can not speak for himself.”

Activists and faith leaders speak Sunday after a 3-year-old was shot to death in Austin

After the shooting, Mayor Lori Lightfoot addressed the individuals responsible for the shooting directly, saying on Twitter: “you have no place in this city, no home in our communities, no shelter to hide.”

“Our city’s collective heart breaks to hear the unfathomable news of a 3-year-old boy who was shot and killed tonight on Chicago’s West Side. There are simply no words to describe such a heinous, unconscionable act of cowardice to shoot at a toddler,” Lightfoot tweeted.

Lightfoot called for anyone with information to contact police or submit anonymously at

“Were going to be asking for a lot of help from this community,” CPD’s Fred Waller said. “We’re going to ask Austin to step up.”

It’s been a violent weekend in the city with at least nine killed, including three other juveniles. A 13-year-old girl was shot in Austin and later died. Two teen boys were also shot and killed in South Shore.

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