PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — We’re hearing from the mother of a 15-year-old boy who was shot and killed in what appears to be a random act of violence. Antonio Walker Jr. was gunned down on the 5200 block of Pentridge Street last night in Southwest Philadelphia.
“I am devastated. My life will never be the same,” Nydisha Williams said.
Nydisha Williams said doctors at Penn Presbyterian Hospital did everything they could to try and save her son, Antonio Walker. At 15, he died alone in the hospital after police say he was shot at 5200 Pentridge. He was not the intended target. (1/2) @CBSPhilly pic.twitter.com/IyBClMMjTS
— Joe Holden (@JoeHoldenCBS3) March 10, 2021
Williams decided to speak with CBS3 late Wednesday afternoon, hopeful her son’s legacy would be more about the peaceful young man he was, his love of painter Bob Ross and his intense respect for Elon Musk.
“He was just so in tune with things which you would never even think about. He just was a thinker,” Williams said.
The weather was nice and Antonio was visiting his cousin on Tuesday in Southwest Philadelphia.
A car rolled by, a window lowered, a firearm emerged. And then shots. Antonio was hit. He was an innocent bystander, now dead.
“And then, following the gunshots, you could hear laughter coming from inside the vehicle. So this appears to be an indiscriminate shooting,” Philadelphia Police Capt. Jason Smith said.
Antonio joins an alarming database of juvenile fatalities in Philadelphia. Records show juvenile homicides are trending 200% higher than this time last year.
“I’m not even worried about the crime being solved. I’m just worried about people understanding who my son was as a person,” Williams said. “That’s just how hopeless I am as the police, the detectives, of this city.”
There have been no arrests in Antonio’s killing.
Mayor Jim Kenney responded to our Jessica Kartalija’s question Wednesday about what the city will do about gun violence and children victims?
“What I’m hoping is we get back to normal, get things opened up, get kids back to school and then have our violence prevention people be able to interface with folks at risk and on a more person-to-person basis, we can drive these numbers down. But they are upsetting and heartbreaking,” Kenney said.
Detectives are searching for a silver Ford Taurus, which they believe the shooter was riding in.
Homicide officials believe three lead factors are driving the rate of violence among children — the availability of guns, beefs on Instagram, and how children are interacting with each other because they are not in school.
Everyone from the Philadelphia police commissioner to the mayor and activists agrees gun violence — especially involving children — has got to stop. But doing that as the pandemic lingers is no easy task and the results are leaving families devastated.
“Gun violence doesn’t discriminate against children,” said Aleida Garcia of the Philadelphia-based National Homicide Justice Alliance.
Garcia helps families seek justice for murdered victims after she lost her own son to Philly’s violent city streets back in 2015.
“It really is like losing a piece of yourself, like an arm or a leg. It’s horrific,” Garcia said.
Garcia says police need to solve more homicide cases to show criminals they’re being taken seriously. She also wants tougher gun laws to keep firearms away from criminals and Garcia believes city leaders need to show more concern around gun violence.
“The mayor should come out on a weekly basis and start talking to the community,” Garcia said.
Antonio’s mom wants change.
“We need better leadership,” Williams said.
In a statement, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said, “I implore the community to be proactive and remain vigilant. The duty to protect these children belongs to all of us. The public has my full assurance that the Philadelphia Police Department is doing everything possible to curb gun violence in the city.”
Meantime, a balloon release and candlelight vigil for Antonio is set for 5 p.m. Thursday at 58th Street and Lindbergh Boulevard. Organizers ask attendees to bring candles and black balloons.
CBS3’s Joe Holden and Matt Petrillo contributed to this report.