WEST TOWN — As loved ones gathered to mourn Caleb Westbrooks Friday, they had a unified message for the person who killed him: Turn yourself in.
Westbrooks, 15, was shot shortly after 1 p.m. on Jan. 18 in the 800 block of North Greenview Avenue in West Town, a few blocks from Rauner College Prep, where he was a freshman.
He was taken to Stroger Hospital and pronounced dead around 90 minutes later, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.
The shooting occurred as the teen was walking to catch a bus home from school, his father, Corneal Westbrooks said in a statement last week.
Police said Friday no suspects were in custody, and detectives were still investigating. They did not provide any further information about a potential motive or the circumstances surrounding the shooting.
Relatives held a visitation for the teen on the Southwest Side ahead of his funeral and a private burial Saturday.
“We really want people to speak up, we are hoping that he can just come out, turn himself in,” said Shacarra Westbrooks, Caleb’s cousin and godmother. “And if anyone knows, whoever is hiding him, you’re just as wrong as the person who did it.
“We’re hurting. And even when they find this young man, we’re going to continue to hurt.”
Lakisha Thompson, a family friend who went to high school with Caleb’s father, remembered the teen as “smart, witty and athletic.”
She pleaded with anyone who might have information about Caleb’s shooter to come forward.
“Someone needs to speak up and say something, it’s the right thing to do,” Thompson said. “It makes no sense that someone would do this to this child and that others would protect this murderer. Caleb does not deserve this. His father surely does not deserve this. And his family does not deserve this.”
On Friday, the Cook County Crime Stoppers offered up to $15,000 for “information that leads to indictment or convictions of the person(s) responsible for this crime.”
Anyone can anonymously call the group’s hotline at 1-800-535-STOP or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chicago Police have also encouraged people with information about the crime to contact its gun trafficking and homicide tip line at 833-408-0069 or 312-746-7330.
Westbrooks was one of five children and teens shot the afternoon of Jan. 18. Five days later, 8-year-old Melissa Ortega was shot and killed on 26th Street in Little Village.
Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st), whose ward includes the area where Caleb was killed, wrote to residents in a newsletter his office is doing everything it can to support detectives in their investigation.
“None of this can bring back Caleb’s smile or let the story of his life continue to play out, and it is hard for me to wrestle with that reality,” La Spata wrote. “But I do believe that in cooperation with you, our organizational partners for peace and health, and with responsible constitutional policing, we can build more healthy and safe communities for all of us to live in.”
In a statement released last week, Corneal Westbrook condemned the “disintegration” of the criminal justice system, and slammed city and county leaders for failing to prevent his son’s death.
“Caleb was one of five teens shot in Chicago Tuesday. Five!” the statement reads. “Caleb also was the second student to be shot and killed walking home from school in less than a week. How did our city get here? Have Chicagoans become desensitized to the violence that permeates virtually every corner of our city?”
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