Gun Violence

Two Families Push for Answers, Justice After Best Friends Killed in Shooting

A military veteran and a school teacher are killed in West Humboldt Park

NBC Universal, Inc.

Dejuan Thomas and Joseph Stokes were best friends.

Thomas was a Navy veteran. Stokes was a school teacher. On March 8, their lives came to a tragic end during a shooting at Iowa and Ridgeway in Chicago's West Humboldt Park neighborhood.

“It is shock. It is disbelief. It kind of renders me speechless,” said Lure Thomas, Dejuan Thomas' sister. “It is so hard to know I cannot call him if something is going wrong.”

Thomas worked at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center. He counseled veterans transitioning back to civilian life.

“He loved his job,” his sister said. “He was a pillar of so many people, villages. How do you keep it standing when a pillar is missing?”

Stokes worked as a gym teacher at Holy Family Catholic School.

“Children there are heartbroken,” said Joseph's sister, Tina. “The principal said it is empty now because Mr. Joe is not here.”

So far, why the men were killed remains unknown.

Chicago Police will only tell NBC that detectives are still investigating. They also say no one is in custody.

Authorities had said the two men were struck by gunfire just before 6 p.m. on March 8 in the 3700 block of West Iowa, but details surrounding the shooting have not been released.

Both families now bonded in grief and the search for answers.

“We cannot accept things like this to just happen,” Thomas said. “Y’all took away two good men. They did not deserve this. Some justice has to be served.

Both families are asking witnesses to come forward and share whatever they know with Chicago Police.

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