When Marshown Means woke up after undergoing surgery for more than two hours, the 6-year-old boy opened his eyes and smiled, his family said minutes after seeing him.
The family breathed a collective sigh of relief when they learned the young boy would survive a shot to the chest after his 14-year-old uncle pulled the trigger Sunday morning, family and police said.
“He was lucky,” said his grandmother Elisha Triplett as she sat in a waiting room at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.
Triplett, Marshown’s mom and a group of cousins, siblings and other relatives anxiously gathered at the hospital to see the active young boy who loves to rap and eat pizza loaded with ranch dressing. They sipped coffee, spoke with a hospital chaplain and talked about the shooting as they waited for a doctor in scrubs to tell them how the child was doing.
Marshown’s mother, Nalena Triplett, 25, of Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, said the two boys were at her father’s home in the 1700 block of West Steuben Street in the Morgan Park neighborhood. Marshown was spending the weekend at his grandfather’s house, and they were supposed to go to the Shedd Aquarium, she said. While the boys waited for her father to get home from work, her father’s girlfriend watched them, Triplett said.
But during an unsupervised period, the 14-year-old asked Marshown if he wanted to play “cops and robbers.” Marshown said no, but his uncle said they were going to play anyway, Triplett said.
“My baby didn’t want to play at all,” she said.
Marshown was shot about 9:55 a.m., police said.
She said the gun at her father’s house was under lock and key, but the 14-year-old found the keys to the safe where it was stored, Triplett said.
Her 14-year-old brother called her after shooting the boy and said, “‘Sis, I'm sorry I shot your son.’”
Police said they did not expect that the juvenile would face charges.
“I told him to stop showing my baby guns,” the emotional mother said, as a van pulled away from the site of the shooting to take her to the hospital.
A relative who lives in the home where the shooting occurred was in custody Sunday following the shooting, police said. The Tribune is not naming him because he has not been charged with a crime. But he has been convicted twice on weapons-related charges, according to court records.
Triplett said that relative wasn’t to blame for the shooting Sunday because the gun was locked up and her son has spent many weekends at the home safely.
As she sat in the waiting room with her son under the knife, Triplett talked about Marshown, the second oldest of her four children.
She said her son loves to rap and can easily turn everyday conversation into a rhythmic melody. He’s known for doing it at home and even in school; adding a beat and rhythm to simple phrases like, “Two plus two is four,” Triplett said, mimicking her son.
Family members know he’s about to start rapping when he turns his hat backward, she said, smiling.
“He’s very creative,” she added.
Triplett said doctors told her that Marshown was shot in the chest and that the bullet hit his diaphragm, skimmed his lung and came out through his back, near the waist. He now has a large wound on his back, she said.
When he came to from surgery, the boy watched one of his favorite shows, “SpongeBob SquarePants,” his mother said.
“I thank God my son is OK,” Triplett said.