CHICAGO — Shortly after arriving in Chicago to celebrate Labor Day weekend, 4-year-old Mychal “MJ” Moultry Jr. was getting his hair braided when bullets shattered the large picture windows of a Woodlawn apartment late Friday, striking the Decatur, Alabama, boy in the head.
Authorities confirmed the child, who loved trips to the beach and the movie “Cars,” was pronounced dead just before 5 p.m. Sunday after being removed from life support at Comer Children’s Hospital.
In a telephone interview with the Tribune on Monday, his mother, Angela Gregg, described her son as gifted. She pleaded for help from the public, asking anyone with information about her son’s killer to contact police.
“They murdered my baby,” she said.
“We don’t know what it is or what it’s not,” Gregg said, when asked about a possible motive for the shooting, “but we just know our baby is not supposed to lose his life at 4 years old, and somebody needs to step up and say something.
“The police don’t know anything yet because no one is talking. No one is coming forward,” she said. “People aren’t answering their doors, and the people that are answering their doors are saying they don’t know anything … Somebody in Chicago knows something.”
On Monday, a few star-shaped blue balloons and a stuffed dinosaur were left as a makeshift memorial outside the apartment building where Mychal was shot. Police said the shooting occurred at about 9 p.m. Friday in the 6500 block of South Ellis Avenue.
The boy was sitting in a barber chair in the apartment getting his hair braided when he was shot. He and his mother arrived in Chicago earlier Friday from their home in Alabama.
Gregg said she was not present when the shooting occurred at the apartment of a family friend, who was injured from shattered glass while braiding the child’s hair. The boy’s father, Mychal Moultry Sr., was near his son when shots were fired, but was not injured.
No one had been charged as of Monday afternoon, police confirmed. Authorities said initial police interviews with the boy’s parents and the home’s resident did not reveal a possible motive. Police said they recovered 27 spent shell casings from a .45 caliber handgun and a 5.7mm mini rifle.
Community activist Andrew Holmes, who is working to help the family, also called on anyone with information about the shooting to contact police. He said his foundation, together with St. Sabina Parish and the All Kids Matter Foundation, are offering a $9,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of whomever is responsible for the boy’s death.
“Give this family some justice,” Holmes said. “If you know who this shooter is, give the information up to the authorities so no one else loses a child like this.”
Mychal’s mother said her only child, whom she called MJ, recently began preschool and was “so excited to go to big boy school.”
“He was so intelligent that they were getting ready to move him to kindergarten,” Gregg said. “They said he was brilliant ... . He was able to read and write. He knew all his numbers. He knew his additions. He was just so advanced.”
She said funeral arrangements have not been finalized yet.
The boy’s mother said he “loved everybody and everybody loved him.”
“He was 4 years old and he was taken from us for nothing,” Gregg said. “He was brilliant. He had his whole life. He has a whole army of people that loved him. Everybody that met my son instantly took to him. As soon as you met MJ, you loved him. The short time he was here, he gained the love of everyone he encountered.
“All he had was love and brilliance to bring to everybody.”
Police said eight children, 17 years old and younger, were shot as of early Monday in Chicago over this Labor Day weekend.