Deonta' Howard, 3-Year-Old Hurt In Chicago Mass Shooting, Visits Church After Hospital Release

09/25/2013 12:11 pm ET | Updated Sep 26, 2013

Updated story

A week after the mass shooting in Cornell Square Park that injured Deonta' Howard and 12 others, the 3-year-old
is finally headed home.

Deonta' was released from Mt. Sinai Hospital Wednesday night where he was recovering from a gunshot wound after a bullet passed under his ear and out his cheek.

“I love y’all,” Deonta' said after visiting a crowd of well-wishers at the New Beginnings Church in Woodlawn. “I was happy to be home.”

"As his mother, I can only be strong because he's strong," Shamarah Leggett, 24, said Tuesday according to DNAinfo Chicago. "He's doing better than I expected. He's moving around, playing — he's back to Deonta'."

Pastor Cory Brooks of New Beginnings Church has been sharing photos of Deonta's progress:

While Leggett said her son can talk, see and hear -- "There's nothing wrong with his brain, it's just his face" -- Deonta' has stitches in his jaw, eye and nose. His right eye is swollen almost completely shut.

Doctors say Deonta' faces a decade of plastic surgery; he'll need ongoing surgeries as he grows until he's 13 years old.

While Leggett told reporters her son's spirits are high, he's also afraid, telling her, “No mom, I don’t want to go back to that park."

"He thinks he’s going to get shot in the park," Leggett told CBS Chicago. "That’s all he keeps saying is he’s going to get shot in the park. 'I don’t want to go back to the park. That man, he was in the park with a gun.'”

"It ain't ever going to be the same," Leggett added, telling NBC Chicago she plans to move from Back of the Yards because she no longer feels safe.

On Tuesday, Chicago police announced they had charged four men in the shooting, including one they believed to be a gunman.

"I just started crying," Leggett said when she learned of the charges. "Tears of joy not tears of pain."

As Deonta' continues to heal, Leggett said her son's recovery -- let alone the fact he survived -- is "more than a miracle."

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