Relatives say a 16-year-old boy who was shot and killed by police after he allegedly fired at people on the street and then at pursuing officers suffered from a bipolar disorder. But they are still at a loss to explain what happened to their "playful, lovable child."
Police say Tywon Jones was shot several times by Ogden District tactical officers around 4:10 p.m. Sunday as he rode a bicycle and fired a handgun in the 1300 block of South Independence Boulevard.
"He was bipolar, depressed," said his mother, Jutuan Brown. "He took medication for it. He was sad sometimes, too sad, sometimes too happy."
But Brown said Sunday was one of her son's happy days. She remembers the last thing he said to her as he left to go out. "Mom, I'm gone," she said. "It's what he always said when he left the house."
Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said he was not aware of Jones' "mental history."
"But somebody who may have a history of mental illness, if they're pointing a firearm at you, it doesn't matter," he added. "So the circumstances of the shooting are the circumstances."
"This kid was shooting into a crowd and the officers were actually following him," McCarthy said. "He was on a bike … and when the kid became aware that the officers were following him, he turned the firearm on the car and fired at my officers a couple of times. They returned fire and unfortunately the kid expired."
McCarthy continued, "He's a juvenile. I'm not supposed to talk about his criminal history. But it's not the first time we came into contact with him." He gave no details.
Police say the tactical officers had been driving north on Independence Sunday afternoon, approaching Roosevelt Road, when they heard gunshots. The officers made a U-turn and crossed the median and spotted Jones firing at people in a vacant lot as he rode a bicycle down Independence, according to a police source.
Jones fired at least three shots toward the lot, then turned around and fire two shots at the officers' car, the source said. He turned toward the car a third time and police opened fire, hitting him several times, according to the source and the Cook County medical examiner's office.
Police say they recovered a .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun.
Jones was pronounced dead at 4:51 p.m. Sunday at Mount Sinai. He had lived in the 1600 block of South Hamlin Avenue, about four blocks from where he was shot.
The Independent Police Review Authority was investigating the shooting, as in routine. "We received notification of an offender struck by police and we are on the scene," spokesman Larry Merritt said Sunday afternoon.
Jones' grandmother, Joyce Chaires, said she didn't think her grandson's struggles with bipolar disorder had anything to do with what happened to him."I don't think so. He seemed alright to me," she said.
But she was at a loss to explain what might have happened Sunday.
Chaires said she was coming back home from University of Illinois Medical Center, where she had visited her brother, when her cell phone rang and her cousin told her about the shooting.
"They said he was down at 13th and Independence shooting up in the air so police shot him," Chaires said. "They scared me."
What she will miss the most is how Jones would sing and dance to popular songs. He liked rap music, she said.
He would often go to the store for her, Chaires said. "He was a good kid."
Brown's fiance, Kevin Bell, said he considered Tywon one of his children. "I have been his father, too, yes," Bell said. "He's a normal teenager, he never had any problems. He was a playful, lovable child."
Jones had gone to Farragut High School, like his mother, but was enrolling in another school, Bell said. "I never saw a report card that wasn't As or Bs," he said. "He was very intelligent. . .He's never been a follower, he did his own thing."
Bell called Jones a "momma's boy," added "there was nothing he didn't tell his mom."
Bell said he too wasn't sure what happened Sunday. "I don't know if he did anything wrong. . .Who would think that you'd be waking up to this?" he asked. "There's nothing in this world I wouldn't do to get him back."
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