Antonio Smith
Family photo via the Chicago Sun-Times

Nine-year-old Antonio Smith stormed out of his family’s apartment on Chicago’s South Side in a fit of anger when his mother refused to get him a cupcake on a warm summer day in August, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

That’s  when he encountered a group of men driving around in two vehicles in search of rival gang members, the paper says. When they reached the backyard of a home, one of the men saw Antonio and believed he was warning the rivals. And he began firing, hitting the boy several times in the back and side, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy told reporters Friday.

The alleged shooter, Derrick Allmon, 19, was about 10 feet away from Antonio when the fatal shots were fired, the report says. The teen reportedly tossed the gun into a nearby sewer and ran away.

 “This didn’t have to happen,” McCarthy said as he announced charges in Antonio’s death, the Sun-Times says.

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Besides Allmon, three others were charged with first-degree murder in the Aug. 20 shooting: Jabari Williams, 22; Michael Baker, 19; and Paris Denard, 19.

McCarthy told reporters that Allmon, who was on parole, had been released from prison in early August after serving 18 months of a three-and-a-half-year sentence for possession of a loaded weapon. Corrections officials said Allmon served 21 months, the paper says.

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“Unfortunately this tragic murder is yet one more example of the strife being caused by gangs and guns in our community,” McCarthy said, according to the Sun-Times. “But the real kicker to this entire case is that it didn’t have to happen. He should not have been on the street to commit this murder.”

Williams was arrested Wednesday when police allegedly saw him with a loaded gun. The other men were arrested Thursday, the report says.

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“Chicago’s murder problem is a gun problem,” McCarthy said, according to the Sun-Times, adding that if shootings were not counted, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City would have the same murder rate. What makes Chicago’s murder rate higher is the large number of guns being brought into the city, he said. “Something has to happen. It’s too easy to obtain a firearm.”

Read more at the Chicago Sun-Times.