One day before starting the second grade at Clay Elementary, Xavior Usanga was gunned down while playing in front of his house with siblings.
The 7-year-old was fatally shot Monday afternoon while standing near an 18-year-old who was also wounded, but survived.
Choking back tears, police chief John Hayden announced Usanga, who enjoyed watching YouTube and playing games, would not be starting school this week due to a fatal gunshot. The shooting occurred just after 5 p.m. in the 3500 block of North 11th Street.
Usanga’s mother, Dawn, described how two men were shooting at each other in the street when her youngest child was hit.
Usanga’s sisters, Trinity, 10, and Angel, 12, were both present when their brother was shot. Trinity, who was grazed by the bullet on her arm, and saw her brother fall after shots were fired. She performed CPR on him.
“I was thinking in my head, is he going to live or not?” Trinity said.
Detectives found a gun at the scene, according to Hayden, but claims officers weren’t getting much information from the community to help find the shooter.
“This case should be solvable,” he said. “This can’t be, ‘I’m afraid to talk to the police.’ I’m hoping people will listen to my plea.”
Kelvin Adams, superintendent of the St. Louis Public School District, revealed about half the children killed attended the city’s public schools.
The district’s crisis team was dispatched to the Hyde Park neighborhood school to provide counseling to students and staff who have been affected by violence.
"It's not unusual for teenagers under the age of 18, let's say between 14 and 18, to be shot and killed, unfortunately. But for children under the age of 12 to be killed in the numbers that have occurred in the last year or so in St. Louis is unusual," said Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. "I don't think children are the targets in these cases."
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Usanga’s death marks the 11th area child shooting murder since June.
Dubbed the “muder capital,” St. Louis has consistently ranked among the country’s most dangerous cities. The FBI's Crime Report identified it as the most dangerous from 2014 - 2017, overtaking Detroit, with 1,817 violent crimes per 100,000 people.
In 2017, the Midwestern city had 66.1 murders per 100,000 people, compared to the nationwide average of only 5.3 murders per 100,000 people in 2017.