A Chicago school community is reeling after two teen boys were shot and killed within hours of one another on Tuesday.
The shootings left 15-year-old Kentrell McNeal and 15-year-old Jamari Williams dead and another student hurt, and took place in two different neighborhoods on Tuesday afternoon.
The first shooting was reported in the 8300 block of South Holland Road, just steps away from Simeon Career Academy. Williams, a JV football player at the school, was standing in front of a business when a person in a black sedan fired shots at him, striking him in the chest.
He was taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Less than four hours later, two more teens, including McNeal, were inside of a vehicle in the 5200 block of South Lake Park at approximately 6:30 p.m. when they were struck by gunfire.
McNeal, a Simeon basketball player, was hit in the head, and was taken to Provident Hospital in serious condition. He was later pronounced dead. A 14-year-old was hit in the chest, and was taken to Comer Children’s Hospital in critical condition.
Carlil Pittman, who runs the non-profit “GoodKidsMadCity,” says he had met McNeal through the group.
“He was kind of like a big brother to a lot of boys on the team. He was a mentor, a funny kid, and respectful, and always accountable,” Pittman said.
As students and faculty mourned the deaths of the two students, parents were told to come pick up their children Wednesday after a threat of a shooting caused school officials to cut the day short.
“My son texted me and showed me a text that said they were sending all students home early,” a parent of a student said.
Even as students at the school were sent home, there are still some activists, including Pittman, who are still expressing hope that Williams and McNeal’s memory can be used as a force for good in the community.
“I think it’s taking moments like this and trying to find a way to divert the energy into something positive to honor and respect Kentrell’s life,” he said.
No one is in custody in either shooting. Community activist Ja’Mal Green offered a $2,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest in Williams’ death.