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After second in family killed, family may return to Africa

Shooting victims Mohammed Kebbeh (left) Omar Kebbeh.

Shooting victims Mohammed Kebbeh, (left) and Omar Kebbeh.

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Updated: October 7, 2012 8:02AM

They came to the U.S. from Gambia — in search of a better life.

But two tough decades later, some of Kenwood Academy High School student Muhammed Kebbeh’s family say they are considering going back to Africa after he became the city’s 370th murder victim this year and second of his six siblings to be gunned down on the South Side in the last six months.

“I want to pack everything up and go back,” his oldest brother, Momadu Kebbeh, 36, said Wednesday, as his devoutly Muslim family mourned and prayed at their Washington Park home. “What’s the point of staying here?”

Muhammed, 19, was sitting with his girlfriend when he was shot dead by masked gunmen in a drive-by shooting in the 8100 block of South Ingleside shortly after 11:30 p.m. Tuesday. Relatives say they had been especially worried about him ever since his 23-year-old brother Omar Kebbeh became Chicago’s 68th murder victim of 2012 back in February.

Muhammed moved out of the family apartment in the 5800 block of South Indiana — just a few blocks from the spot where Omar Kebbeh was killed as he walked home from work — soon after to stay with friends and wouldn’t come back, despite repeated entreaties, his brother Hajie said.

Police sources say Muhammed was a member of the Gangster Disciples street gang and his brother said that was “probably” true.

“He said he had a beef and he didn’t want to come back and put the family in danger,” Hajie Kebbeh said. “I asked him two times but the only time he came to me was when he needed money or something else. We were all very worried.”

Mohammed, a quiet basketball and soccer lover, hung out on the corner at 71st and South East End with his pals and was staying with friends near where he was killed, his family said. He was the first member of his family to be born in the U.S. but was always conscious of his African roots, his family said.

Despite his problems, he sometimes still attended mosque with his mom, Mariana, and he had attended the first day of school at Kenwood on Tuesday just hours before he was killed, relatives said.

“It’s very difficult for our mother,” Momadu Kebbeh said. “Now she has lost two sons.”

Police have not made arrests in either of the Kebbeh brothers’ murders.

Muhammed’s killing means the city’s murder rate is now 27 percent higher than it was at the same point last year. Though the increase was as high as 40 percent earlier this year, it is still on track to top 500 murders for the first time since 2008.

Quizzed about the spiralling murder rate Sunday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, “We’re containing it.”

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