14-year-old boy shot dead in Evanston - FOX 32 News Chicago

'Person of interest' in custody for Evanston student athlete death

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EVANSTON, Ill. (FOX 32 News) -

Evanston police announced Thursday that a "person of interest" is in custody for the death of 14-year-old Dajae "Dae Dae" Coleman. The promising athlete was only a mile away from his home when he was gunned down.

The person being held was not identified, but police said he was found with the assistance of the North Regional Major Crime Task Force.

Coleman was walking home from a party Saturday night when friends said someone opened fire on their group.

Coleman was found after calls of shots fired in the 1500 block of Church Street in Evanston came in at about 10:30 p.m. Evanston police said four shots were fired, one of which struck him in the chest.

"I think he was at the wrong place at the wrong time," said his former football coach, Tyrone Wilson Sr. "They pulled out a gun and started shooting."

The invite to the party Coleman attended was also sent out on Facebook, and his entire school was invited. Around 100 people showed up, including the 14-year-old.

His father, Richard Coleman, said he gave Coleman permission to go to the party because he was a good kid. He was a star basketball and football player, and an honor roll student.

"How can you tell a kid he can't go to a party when they are doing all they can to succeed in life?" his father asked.

"He told me where it was. I said, ‘OK, but don't be sitting around there on the street. Don't go wandering. Call me after the party. Don't walk,' " Coleman's father said. "He said, ‘OK, Dad. I'll call you.' … And he never called me back."

When the boy's mother called Coleman to the police station, the man did not anticipate the news he would hear.

"When she started crying, I thought he got beaten up or maybe done something stupid," Coleman said. "When I got there, I asked the people where's my d------ son so I can kick his a---. They didn't respond. I got blank faces."

After a few minutes in the police department lobby, Coleman asked if his boy had gotten shot.

"When he said, ‘Yeah.' I ran upstairs to find his mother," Coleman said.

Police didn't have many details. "They said, ‘It wasn't meant for him,'" Coleman said.

The Evanston Police Department has released a few details, but continues to work with the north Regional Major Crime Task Force. They said as of Monday morning, they do not have anyone in custody.

But they do ask the public to report any information they might have regarding the 14-year-old's tragic death, because every piece of information will help bring the shooter to justice.

The Evanston Township High School freshman was a youth sports standout, a good student and hard worker who landed his first job at the Evanston community center this summer.

"He wasn't one of those guys," Dajae's father, Richard Coleman said. . "He wasn't someone who you'd think would get killed like this. But really, in the society we're living in he actually was … one of the good ones, the innocent ones that leave early."

The 14-year-old's mother, Tiffany Rice, said that for him, life was about basketball, basketball, and basketball.

"An amazing kid. So full of life - so full of potential," Rice said. "Unfortunately his life was cut short. He won't be able to live up to his full potential. He makes me more proud every day."

In an essay he wrote for his Humanities class last week, Dajae expressed appreciation for the support he received from friends and family, Evanston Alderman Peter Braithwaite shared with the media.

"My friends and family, they really care about me; they get me the things I need, and they make sure I am always doing good in school," he wrote. "... 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."

The high school provided crisis counselors for students Monday, to help cope with the fact that one of their own is no longer with them.

Students wore red on Monday, in solidarity with their slain classmate, and to show support for his family during this sad time.

On Sunday, social media lit up with memorials to Coleman, including a Facebook page titled "RIP Dajae Coleman."

"I can't even put my feelings into words," said one friend on Twitter.

Friends and fans continued to pay tribute:

"Your in my heart lil homie...Hoop in heaven," said one Tweeter.

"If it happen to him, lets me know it can happen to any of us," said another.

There are a number of Facebook groups dedicated to remembering Coleman, and helping his family out. One page states there will be a fundraiser on Thursday at 9 p.m. for his family.

His former coach said he watched Coleman grow into a brilliant athlete - and person — since he was 6 years old.

"He was a tremendous athlete and a tremendous person," Wilson said. "He was a kid who any coach would have wanted to coach. He was just a guy who led by example."

Coleman said Dajae loved play football and basketball, but he had bigger goals than making it to the NBA. They talked about that on Friday, the last time they were together.

It was raining and Dajae needed a ride home from the barbershop. Coleman asked his boy if after a few weeks in high school if he had figured out a life plan.

"He told me he wanted to be an engineer or maybe a doctor," Coleman said. "I told him that's a lot of work. And he said, ‘You know me dad, I can do it.'"

And like a lot of people who watched Dajae play sports and help out at the community center summer camp, Coleman believed his son really could do it.

"You could bet money on it that he would do something big in life. That's just his aura, the way he was," Coleman said. "He was Dae Dae and everybody loved him. When he smiled, you had to smile back."

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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