EVANSTON (CBS) — Dajae Coleman was 14-years-old, a promising athlete and honors student.
On Monday, students at Evanston Township High School arrived at school, trying to come to grips with his tragic death.
Coleman was walking down the street with friends on Saturday night near Church Street and Dodge Avenue—not far from the high school—when he was shot and killed.
Just last week, Coleman wrote an essay in class, telling his friends how much he appreciated them.
“He didn’t deserve this, he was only 14-years-old, freshman, second week of high school and he’s not here anymore,” said Miguel Figeroa, one of Coleman’s friends.
The mundane routine of a Monday school morning was overtaken by sadness and confusion.
“I cried at church. I cried last night. I cried when I found out. I cried with my friends. I cried by myself. I just kept crying because I didn’t know what else to do,” said another friend, Mayah Smith told CBS 2’s Susanna Song.
Smith said Dajae would walk her to seventh-period class.
“He would flirt with me because he knew I was an upperclassman,” she said.
Erika Carter is dating Dajae’s older half-brother, who broke the news to her.
Carter, like so many others, remembers him playing basketball and coaching others.
“He was a really good kid; I know touched a lot of people,” she said. “I’ve never heard him doing anything bad. I remember him playing basketball on Saturdays.”
Dajae was shot in the chest as he walked home from a party Saturday night.
Parent Maridel Todd says it could have been her son walking home from a party, and that’s what scares her.
“I’m devastated, my heart goes to the family,” she said. “You could be a good kid minding your own business.”
In that essay he wrote two days before his death, Dajae thanked his basketball coach, family and friends.
“I believe that support from family and friends really helps,’’ he wrote. “My mom pushes me to do better; she always tells me to never settle.
“I think the kids that are on the street not doing anything with their lives don’t get the type of support they need from family. They probably don’t have anyone to look up to.”
Police remain tight-lipped about the investigation.
A fund has been set up to help defray funeral costs for the victim’s family:
Dajae Coleman Memorial Fund
Evanston Township High School
1600 Dodge Avenue
For more information, click here.
At a twilight vigil Monday, Dajae’s mother was surrounded by hundreds of supporters.