Father of seven shot dead not a gang member, family says

Sun-Times Media Wire, January 10, 2013 3:44PM

The family of a father of seven, gunned down outside an Old Town store where he’d gone to buy diapers and milk for his young children Tuesday, are denying police allegations that he was a gang member.

TyShawn Blanton, 31, and a 20-year-old man were shot multiple times about 6:15 p.m. Tuesday in the 1300 block of North Sedgwick Avenue, according to police. Blanton was pronounced dead less than an hour later at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center.

Blanton’s fiancé, Melissa Morris, said he had gone to the store to buy diapers, milk and Lottery tickets. Blanton had seven children between 1-month and 18 years old.

“He was coming out of the store to make it home and eat dinner,” she said.

Police said at the time that both Blanton and the other victim had gang affiliations, an allegation Blanton’s family members denied.

“He is not in a gang. He has seven kids, that’s the only gang he’s got. He’s a family man,” his fiancé said.

While family members confirmed that Blanton — who grew up in Cabrini-Green and later moved to Englewood, where he attended high school — had been arrested in the past, they said they were not for gang-related offenses.

“He was a loving person. He loved his kids,” his sister, Taza Blanton, said Thursday. “He took care of his kids, and took care of my mom. He went to see her every day and talked to her on the phone every day.”

A police spokesman reiterated Thursday that records show he was a member of the Conservative Vice Lords.

Blanton had formerly worked as a barber, but stopped to help raise his children, his sister said. He enjoyed playing basketball, paintball, going to concerts and spending time with his family.

His mother, Brenda Calhoun, said he had the names of his children tattooed on his body.

An autopsy Wednesday determined Blanton died of multiple gunshot wounds and the death was ruled a homicide, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

The other man was shot in the back multiple times and taken in critical condition to Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Blanton was the city’s 14th homicide of 2013. No one was in custody as of Thursday afternoon and Area North detectives are investigating.

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