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Markham Man Charged With Killing NIU Student

Chaz Thrailkill, 19, of Markham, has been charged with the murder of Northern Illinois University student Steven Agee. (Credit: DeKalb Police Department)

Chaz Thrailkill, 19, of Markham, has been charged with the murder of Northern Illinois University student Steven Agee. (Credit: DeKalb Police Department)

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UPDATED 11/23/11 5:37 p.m.

DEKALB, Ill. (CBS) — A south suburban teen stands charged with murder, after a Northern Illinois University student was shot and killed at an off-campus party early Wednesday morning.

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, Steven R. Agee II, 22, of Park Forest was shot around 2:10 a.m. at an apartment in a complex at 809 Edgebrook Dr. on the northwest side of DeKalb.

Steven Agee

Northern Illinois University college senior Steven Agee was shot and killed overnight at an off-campus party. (Credit: CBS)

Police announced Tuesday afternoon that Chaz Thrailkill, 19, of Markham, has been charged with Agee’s murder.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Lisa Fielding reports

Police Chief Bill Feithen said earlier that the suspect is not a student at NIU.

Police arrived about a minute after someone called 911 to report that someone had been shot, and found Agee wounded in the chest, DeKalb Police Chief Bill Feithen said. Agee was later pronounced dead at Kishwaukee Community Hospital in DeKalb.

Detectives have learned that Agee was shot during an argument that broke out at large apartment party attended by dozens of people, including other NIU students, Feithen said.

Agee did not live in the apartment, which is about a mile from campus, Feithen said.

A neighbor heard the commotion at the time the gunfire erupted.

“I just heard screaming outside and stuff. I was downstairs in my room, and I could tell, like, the red lights flashing and stuff. I didn’t even want to know what was going on outside,” said Brent Trumpy.

Trumpy said he didn’t know a party had been going on, but the trouble wasn’t a surprise.

“They had one a while ago and they had the same problem,” he said. “It was just really loud, and I heard some gunshots went off.”

As CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports, Ryan Chambers was hosting the party and heard the gunfire that killed his friend.

“I heard three shots. I go downstairs and I see my friend laying on the floor. People were running around, they were trying to get out of the house. It was insane,” he said.

Chambers ran to his friend’s side.

“Everybody had thought that he got shot with a bb gun, but I saw him bleeding through his chest and I knew it was real,” he said.

Chambers tried to comfort his friend, but soon realized there was little he could do.

“I just told him to hold on. He had a blank stare in his eye. At that time, I didn’t know if he was alive or not, I just told him to hang on,” he said.

Chambers said Agee was planning on leaving for Thanksgiving on Wednesday. Now, he just wishes Agee had left last night.

“He was a great guy,” Chambers said. “And I’m so sorry that it happened at my house. I feel so bad.”

Agee grew up in the south suburbs. His parents and friends said he was a quiet boy and loved sports.

CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley spoke with his grieving mother, who said she’s not really relieved that a suspect has been arrested.

Kimberly Agee said nothing – no arrests, no prosecutions – can bring her son back.

Steven Agee was supposed to be heading home for Thanksgiving, but now his mother is preparing a different king of homecoming – a funeral.

After returning from DeKalb on Wednesday, Kimberly Agee said she’s still coming to grips with the most painful reality a parent can face.

“I gotta let him go. He’s gone.”

Kimberly said Steven was into sports since he was 5 years old. As a freshman and sophomore at Marian Catholic High School, he played football, baseball and wrestled.

He returned to pay a visit there just last week and the principal said what she remembers most is his engaging smile.

“When I saw him, it’s like, ‘I recognize that smile,’” Sister Catherine Tait said. “He had talked about going on to get his master’s next year.”

Steven Agee transferred and graduated from Thornwood High School. At NIU, he blossomed into an outgoing leader, becoming president of his fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi, and working in mentoring programs.

But he considered leaving after the Valentine’s Day shooting spree at NIU in 2008, in which a former student killed five people, then committed suicide.

“He wanted to transfer. We, as parents, were like, ‘You can’t run from everything,’” his mother said. “So he decided to stay.”

His parents never thought that advice might lead to their son becoming a victim.

“We sent him away to college for prosperity in his future,” his mother said. “And someone took it upon themself to think that they had a right to gun him down. You don’t have that right.”

Most NIU students were not even aware of the shooting because they were home for the Thanksgiving holiday. The campus seemed bare in the midday hours Wednesday.

NIU says in the wake of the incident, counselors are available for students, faculty and staff by calling the Counseling and Student Development Center, at (815) 753-1206.

The overnight shooting revived memories of some other disturbing violent incidents on campus in recent years.

On April 5 of this year, Huskies football player Devon Butler was shot while visiting a friend and playing video games in an off-campus apartment. He was wounded in the back.

Police said two fellow students opened fire in the apartment after a drug deal gone bad. Butler had nothing to do with the deal.

Butler is not playing football this year, as he recovers from the shooting.

On Oct. 14, 2010, NIU student Antinette “Toni” Keller vanished after telling friends she planned to go to Prairie Park near campus, and her burned body was found in the park two days later. William Curl, 34, was later charged with Keller’s sexual assault and murder.

And in one of the most horrific acts of violence in recent memory, five people were killed and 21 others were injured when a gunman stormed into a geology class at NIU’s Cole Hall and opened fire on Feb. 14, 2008. The gunman, Steven Kazmierczak, 27, shot and killed himself before police arrived on the scene.