Javier Cameron, 14, was shot in the back at 7:45 p.m. Thursday in the 7700 block of South Homan Avenue near the Sarah E. Goode Stem Academy. He was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he remained in serious but stable condition Friday.
"I think it's a really cowardly to shoot somebody in the back, for one. For two, he's 14 years old. I mean, you don't really have nothing better to do with your life? But to approach kids?" said Carmelita Rice, Cameron's mother, said. She said two boys approached her son, asked if he was in a gang, and then punched him when he said he wasn't. They pulled out a gun as he ran away, she said.
"The first guy hit him in his face and when he went to swing back on him he pulled out a gun and that's when he actually pulled the trigger twice," Rice said.
Officers searched near the school grounds and front landscaping with flashlights, but no one was found or taken into custody.
Cameron does not attend Goode, but was walking by the school after seeing two girls home safely. His mother says he's an honors student and also an athlete at Ralph Ellison Charter School.
While police believe Cameron may have gang affiliations, Rice and others, including Pastor Corey Brooks with New Beginning's Church, describe him as a "nice young man."
"I don't know him to be any trouble. . . My heart breaks that we have to continue to have these type of events happening in our neighborhood but we have to take ownership of it. We can't continue to place blame on other people to solve our problems," said Brooks.
Meanwhile, residents say the incident has left them fearful.
"I'm afraid for my daughter to go to school," said Martina Vega, parent.