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The four gang members in Chicago's South Side:
Paris R. Denard, 19
Michael Baker, 19
Jabari Williams, 22
Derrick Allmon, 19
...were out looking to shoot rival gang members on Aug. 20 when they encountered the third-grade boy, Antonio Smith, in a yard near his Grand Crossing home. They thought the boy was trying to warn rival gangbangers about their whereabouts, police said.
Police said Allmon shot the boy at least four times.
Allmon, who was armed and stalking two rivals, thought the boy was yelling out to warn his targets when he cut down the boy in a hail of bullets and left him lying next to a concrete slab in the back of a stranger's yard on E. 71 St., police said.
Police found the third-grader's bloodied body a short time later and rushed him to a local children's hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
After a monthlong investigation, cops caught up to the killer and his accomplices last week.
Williams was arrested Wednesday after police spotted him carrying a weapon, the Tribune said.
During questioning, he admitted his connection to the boy's killing and later dimed-out his gang-banger buddies, who cops say are members of a local crew called the Gangster Disciples.
The others were arrested Thursday. All were ordered held without bond.
At a news conference Friday, police credited community and religious leaders with helping bring the men to justice.
Antonio was the youngest person to be killed by gun violence in Chicago this year, the Tribune said, and his death had riled locals in the gang-plagued South Side.
Community members had raised $13,500 for information leading to an arrest and had repeatedly spoken out about the senseless "execution" of the little boy they liked to call "Hamburger."
Police said the boy had no gang ties.
"Our investigators initially had very little to work with, but the nature of this murder, that a 9-year-old boy could be gunned down in cold blood, outraged the community," Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said Friday, according to DNA info.
In a stomach-turning twist, McCarthy said Allmon had only recently been released from prison when he shot the boy.
The 19-year-old triggerman had served about two years of a three and a half year sentence for weapons charges. "He should not have been on the street to commit this murder," McCarthy said, according to the Tribune.
"The real kicker to this entire case is that it didn't have to happen."