"I don't want to live around my community where I got to keep on hearing and hearing people keep on getting shot, people keep on getting killed," Zarriel Trotter said in a PSA filmed at Chicago's Catalyst Circle Rock Charter School last year. He is currently recovering in a hospital after being hit by a stray bullet in Chicago's Austin neighborhood on Friday. The boy's great-uncle says the 13-year-old was walking home from playing basketball with friends when he came upon two groups of youths arguing around 8:30pm, per Fox 32 and the Chicago Tribune. A male then opened fire and Zarriel was hit in the lower back, police say. He was listed in critical condition on Saturday after an emergency surgery, though authorities say he is slowly improving.
"He was not the intended target," an officer tells the New York Times. "He was standing on the sidewalk." "We're all praying he stays strong," adds Zarriel's school principal, who notes the seventh-grader—with a "positive energy that's contagious"—has yet to speak. "I never think that he would get shot," says a friend of Zarriel, but "when it's night time people be shooting out here and I think if I come outside, they start shooting," he says. The Chicago Sun-Times reports Zarriel is the 71st person shot in Austin this year. In his PSA interview, he had this advice for those living a life of violence: "Can you please just stop killing people?" he says. "Handle what you got to handle with your words instead of your fists." (Read more shooting stories.)