15-year-old found shot to death blocks from Obama’s home
BY BRIAN SLODYSKO Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org April 23, 2013 5:58AM
15-year-old shooting victim Cornelius German stands between his parents, Ronald German and Timika Rutledge. | Provided photo
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Updated: May 25, 2013 6:17AM
Timika Rutledge’s Monday night unfolded like a mother’s worst nightmare.
When her youngest son was not waiting at a Walgreens at the corner of 51st and Cottage Grove as planned, annoyance shifted to apprehension — and eventually to grief, as police cars streamed into the area.
“I had this sinking gut feeling something wasn’t right,” said Rutledge, 42, as tears welled in her eyes. “I saw a police officer. He said a little kid got shot. Somehow, I knew it was my baby. I went back there. I saw my baby on the ground in the grass. I saw his gym shoes and his jacket.”
She couldn’t bring herself to go any closer.
Her son, 15-year-old Cornelius German, was lying dead nearby — shot only four blocks from President Barack Obama’s home in the 5000 block of South Greenwood.
His mother said she was told her son’s last words were, “Call my mama.”
Obama and his wife, Michelle, responded to the shooting, according to the White House, saying they were “saddened” that another young victim fell to gun violence in their hometown. The president added that he “remained committed” to getting gun control laws through Congress, a spokesman said.
In the teen’s killing, police say the youth, nicknamed “Cornbread,” was shot in the back around 9:40 p.m. Monday in the backyard of a home in the 5000 block of South Evans. Cornelius, of the 1000 of West 51st Street, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Cornelius had been with friends Monday night and called Rutledge and his father, Ronald German, to pick him at 51st and Cottage Grove. When they didn’t see Cornelius, they tried to call him on the phone.
That’s when the police cars arrived, and a bystander told Rutledge that “Cornbread” — the youngest of her four children — had been shot.
Friends told Rutledge her son was leaving a dice game in the backyard when he was shot and that he wasn’t the intended target, an account police could not immediately confirm.
No arrests had been made as of early Wednesday morning. Police don’t have a suspect.
Police said Cornelius was affiliated with a gang, which family members deny, though they acknowledge he ran with an older, rougher crowd who were probably involved with gangs.
“He didn’t have no gang tattoos. He didn’t have no piercings,” Rutledge said.
To his family, the Kenwood Academy freshman was a charismatic, wise-cracking teen who could brighten even the most glum moods.
“Even if you were down, he was going to crack jokes,” said Kameisha Andrews, an aunt. “He was always a comedian.”
Andrews, who lives in an apartment around the corner from the Obamas’, said she ran to the scene of the shooting after family called with news Cornelius was shot.
She last saw him alive Friday, when he showed up at her house craving junk food.
“He came up in here and said, ‘I know you got some cookies,’ ” Andrews said.
By the time he left he’d had much more — a meal of catfish nuggets, macaroni and cheese and cookies, with a glass of Kool-Aid, she said.
“It’s just sad another 15-year-old boy is dead, my nephew. . . . He was doing what teenagers do,” Andrews said. “Just kicking it with friends.”
After authorities removed Cornelius’ body late Monday, Rutledge returned home near 51st and Morgan. But instead of crawling in bed with her husband, she said she went to Cornelius’ bedroom. She pulled one of the boy’s sweatshirts tight to smell his scent and comfort herself.
But she couldn’t sleep.
“The one thing I’ll never forget is him laying there on that ground for three hours, and all I can see was his shoes,” Rutledge said.
Contributing: Lynn Sweet