MATTESON, Ill. (STMW) — When a south suburban teen was shot to death on a street in New Orleans last week, he was talking on his cell phone to his best friend here, the victim’s parents said.

Joseph Massenburg, 18, of Matteson, had just started a nine-month assignment as an AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps volunteer when he was killed April 1 around 11 p.m.

He was talking to a 17-year-old friend when it happened, according to Joseph’s mother, Sharon Massenburg.

“Joseph said he saw someone in a car with a gun,” his mother said.

“He told Joseph to run, the phone went dead after that. His friend took it pretty hard.”

Joseph was killed about 3 miles west of the French Quarter, not far from where he lived with other young volunteers who were working for Green Light New Orleans, a nonprofit group that makes energy-efficient improvements in low-income housing.

He and his coworkers were settling into their apartment and getting to know the neighborhood, his mother said.

“We always told Joe to be familiar with his surroundings,” his mother said.

Her son was used to rough neighborhoods, having volunteered for many years at the church where his parents both serve as pastors, the City of Refuge Ministry in the Lawndale neighborhood.

Joseph told his mother the best thing about his new job was meeting new people. “He liked people, he liked to see the smiles on their faces when he helped them,” his mother said.

He planned to join the Army after his AmeriCorps stint.

“We’ve seen a lot of killings like this going on in Chicago, Sharon Massenburg said. “You never think you would receive a phone call about your son, but in reality it could have been anyone’s child.”

A spokeswoman for the National Civilian Community Corps said it has pulled two teams out of New Orleans for counseling in the wake of the shooting. But more than 900 NCCC volunteers will remain in the city.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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