Judge orders teen detained in slaying of 7-year-old boy on Near West Side

Cook County prosecutors on Saturday said that copious surveillance video, multiple acquaintances, police officers and two eyewitnesses helped identify a 16-year-old boy as the gunman who fired a semiautomatic rifle toward a Near West Side housing complex, killing 7-year-old Jai’Mani Amir Rivera.

The teen, Raysean Comer, who had two active juvenile arrest warrants, along with two pending cases, was recognized in still photos by three Chicago police officers who had prior interactions with him, authorities told a Cook County judge during a detention hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building.

Comer, of the Henry Horner Homes, was charged as an adult with first-degree murder in connection to Jai’Mani’s shooting death. Judge Antara Nath Rivera ordered Comer detained in juvenile custody during the case.

Prosecutors said Jai’Mani left his building complex in the 2300 block of West Jackson Boulevard around 3 p.m. Tuesday to take a cooking pot to a next-door neighbor for his mother.

Just as the child stepped outside his building, he was struck once in the back by a rifle shot, Assistant State’s Attorney Anne McCord Rodgers said in court. With a single spot of blood on his white T-shirt, the wounded child walked back to his building’s lobby and collapsed as someone ran to his aid. Authorities didn’t discuss whom they believed was the intended target.

Responding police officers applied pressure to the boy’s chest and took him in a police vehicle to Stroger Hospital, where he was pronounced dead less than an hour later, officials said. An autopsy found Jai’Mani was shot in the torso, and the Cook County medical examiner’s office ruled the boy’s death a homicide.

Rodgers said “a steady network of surveillance video” gathered from multiple cameras captured Comer before during and after the shooting, some showing his face.

Video captured him walking to the area of Crane High School, pulling a rifle from his pants and firing multiple shots toward the building at 2325 W. Jackson Blvd. at the same time Jai’Mani was shot. Police recovered 13 spent .223-caliber shell casings from the rear parking lot of Crane Medical Prep High School. Authorities are awaiting DNA tests on the casings. The bullet caliber is typically fired from AK-47-style rifles.

The day after the boy’s death, authorities released still photos of the gunman in a police bulletin seeking help identifying them. Soon after, three police officers identified Comer as the gunman in the photos. Two of those officers personally arrested Comer in March 2023 for criminal trespass to a vehicle, Rodgers said.

Authorities received two other tips, including one from a woman who said a teenager fired a rifle near her car and fled the scene.

During Comer’s arrest at his home a mile from the shooting scene, authorities said a loaded 9mm handgun was tossed out of a window and recovered, according to his arrest report.

In approving Comer’s detention petition, the judge ruled that prosecutors had shown clear and convincing evidence that Comer was the gunman and that he remained a threat to the public.

The boy’s shooting death after a violent Father’s Day weekend in the city prompted police Superintendent Larry Snelling and Mayor Brandon Johnson to voice their outrage at the senseless killing.

“The random shooting of this 7-year-old is unacceptable,” the superintendent told reporters Tuesday evening outside Stroger Hospital. “This wasn’t a situation where the parents didn’t know where their child was,” Snelling added. “This child was walking out of his residence and was struck by random gunfire.”

Comer is expected to return to court on Tuesday.

Sam Charles contributed to this report.