Prosecutors: Gunman “went hunting” for victim before fatally shooting 9-year-old Janari Ricks

Janari Ricks | Twitter

Prosecutors on Tuesday said a convicted felon “went hunting” for a victim when he opened fire and fatally shot 9-year-old Janari Ricks near the boy’s River North home on Friday evening.

Darrell Johnson, age 39, was ordered held without bail after prosecutors laid out their version of events during a court hearing on Tuesday afternoon. 

Ricks was shaking hands with a neighbor, who is believed to be the intended target, when shots rang out around 6:30 p.m., Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said. Video camera footage reportedly shows the gunman walking down an alley and peering between a fence moments before the shooting. Police found six shell casings at the scene. Other surveillance cameras captured images of the boy running and collapsing after he was shot.

During a press conference Monday, Ald. Walter Burnett Jr (27th) said the shooting involved “families have known each other for over 50 years.”

Murphy said the state expects to file an attempted murder charge against Johnson because he intended to shoot the neighbor when Ricks was killed.

Darrell Johnson | CPD

A witness reported seeing Johnson limp from the scene. Murphy said Johnson walks with a limp due to a gunshot wound that he received years ago. At least three other people stepped forward to identify Johnson for police, according to Murphy.

Johnson allegedly fled the scene in his girlfriend’s Nissan Altima. Police arrested him Sunday as he stepped into the same car on the South Side.

Murphy said Johnson was convicted of vehicular hijacking and a gun charge in 2005. He was convicted of aggravated battery causing great bodily harm in 2002.

Judge Ortiz called Johnson “a clear and present danger” as she rejected a defense attorney’s request for bail and electronic monitoring.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is