BY MICHAEL LANSU
Homicide Watch Chicago
Chicago rapper Young Pappy, who had previously been the intended target in at least two shootings that left bystanders dead, was himself fatally shot early Friday in the Uptown neighborhood.
Shaquon Thomas, 19, was in the 4800 block of North Kenmore Avenue when gunfire erupted about 1:35 a.m., authorities said. Witnesses reported seeing a black car that may have been associated with the shooting, according to a statement from Ald. Harry Osterman (48th Ward).
The shooting happened across the street from St. Thomas of Canterbury Catholic church.
Paramedics took Thomas to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where he was declared dead at 2:04 a.m., authorities said.
Uptown resident Kristin Johnson said it is not unusual to hear gunshots in the neighborhood.
“I heard about 10 gunshots and went to the window to peek out, but I didn’t see anything,” Johnson said.
Johnson, 34, said she initially used to wonder if the loud noises in the neighborhood were gunshots or fireworks, but she has since become desensitized to them.
“I used to feel more safe [in Uptown] … but I’m a mom now,” Johnson said while holding her young child. “It’s different when its just you.”
Osterman said he has requested “additional security in our area to curb the possibility of retaliatory actions.”
Thomas rapped under the moniker Young Pappy. The up-and-coming musician was not signed to a record label, but his song “Killa” has more than 250,000 views on YouTube. Another song, “Fanteo Freestyle,” has nearly 225,000 views.
As word of the rapper’s death spread, fans, including Cliff Alexander, a standout basketball player at Curie Metropolitan High School and the University of Kansas, took to social media to express their condolences:
The rapper was born on the North Side and makes music because “it puts him in a positive mood,” according to his Facebook page.
Authorities listed Thomas’ home address as the 6300 block of North Lakewood Avenue, but a resident at the building said he only occasionally stayed there with his father, who recently moved out.
Thomas’ family could not be reached for comment.
“He was always happy, he always had everybody positive around him, always had a smile on his face,” according to a friend, who is not being identified because he is a juvenile. “He was just happy all the time, hanging out with his friends. He was always cracking jokes.”
According to the rapper’s Facebook page, he hoped to use music to support his family and the family of a friend killed in street violence.
“He expressed all his feelings in his music, that’s how he expressed himself,” according to the friend. “That’s how he let everything out basically.”
Prior to his death, the rapper posted on his Facebook page: “All he wanted me to do was make it. He campaigned my music the hardest out of anybody I knew. I love bro and I’m gonna do this for him cause this what he wanted.”
Thomas himself was no stranger to street violence and run-ins with the law.
In 2013, Thomas was sentenced to one year in prison for felony aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, according to court records. He was given credit for time served.
He also has numerous misdemeanor arrests, mostly recently a May 13 disorderly conduct and possession of cannabis charge, according to court records. According to DNAinfo Chicago, that charge came from a record release party that led to a five-hour police standoff and 31 people arrested.
Osterman confirmed that Thomas “had been a target in other gang-related shootings in Edgewater and Rogers Park.”
Lewis, 28, was standing in the 1300 block of West Devon Avenue when a gunman walked up and shot him in the back about 3:20 p.m. July 12, authorities said.
Lewis escaped poverty in Guatemala when he was adopted at age 7. Loving parents raised him in Wisconsin, where he found his two passions: photography and the woman who would become his wife.
He attended art school in Milwaukee and moved to Chicago two years ago. Lewis and his wife moved into an apartment in the 4700 block of North Hermitage Avenue just two weeks before his death, according to a friend.
Prosecutors claim 31-year-old Conservative Vice Lord Eric Vaughn spotted a rival gang member, handed 15-year-old Denzel Burke a gun and Burke and 17-year-old Michael Phillips chased their rival through Rogers Park.
Burke fired 10 times, missing the rival but striking Lewis in the back as he stood at a nearby bus stop, prosecutors said.
On Feb. 5, 2014, a masked gunman fatally shot Carr, 17, and wounded three others in a McDonald’s parking lot in the 6700 block of North Clark Street.
The victims had been in an argument with another group of people shortly before the masked gunman approached, police said.
Jaunita Carr-Clay, Carr’s aunt, said her nephew loved to rap.
“He made little videos at home on his own,” she said. “He was very talented. He rapped about everyday life, reality.”
She said Carr, who attended a nearby high school, had just come from his mother’s house around the corner. “She’d given him a few dollars to get something to eat.”
Nobody has been charged for Carr’s death.
A police spokeswoman declined to confirm Thomas’ role in the deaths of Lewis and Carr, citing “an open and on-going investigation.”
— Contributing: Matt McCall
— Network Video Productions