Evanston community turns out to mourn slain teen
Tiffany Rice and LuLue Brown hug as family members and friends of shooting victim Dajae Coleman gather at the corner where the youth was shot at Church and Florence for a memorial service Monday night. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
Evanston Township High School has set up a memorial fund on behalf of Dajae Coleman’s family to defray funeral expenses and support the family. Donations can be made:
• General public can drop off donations in the Safety Office at Door #1, entrance off Dodge Avenue from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday.
• ETHS students and staff can donations to the Main Office from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday.
• Check or money order payments may be mailed to: Evanston Township High School, ATTN: Dajae Coleman Memorial Fund, 1600 Dodge Avenue, Evanston, IL 60201
• Secure online payments can be made using a credit or debit card at www.eths.k12.il.us/
All checks or money orders should be made out to “ETHS District 202.” Write “Dajae Coleman” on the memo line.
All donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Donations will be accepted through Oct. 31. For more information, call 847-424-7100.
Updated: September 27, 2012 4:59PM
EVANSTON — Evanston police are working leads but weren’t ready to report anything conclusive Tuesday in the fatal shooting of a 14-year-old Evanston boy Saturday night.
The death of Dajae Coleman, whom loved ones described as a good student and accomplished basketball player who was looking forward to playing for the freshmen team at Evanston Township High School, has rocked the community.
“He wasn’t one of those guys,” said Dajae’s father, Richard Coleman. “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.”
Friends, family members and others gathered Monday on the 1500 block of Church Street — near where the teen was slain — in a candlelight vigil and prayer service.
The outpouring grew so large that police stopped traffic as mourners emotionally exchanged memories of the youth known “Dae, Dae.”
“This is wonderful,” said Mike Rice, Dajae’s grandfather, of the support. “The community has been robbed, not just the family.”
Richard Coleman said his son asked for permission to go to a party with friends Saturday night.
“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,” Richard Coleman said.
“He said, ‘OK, Dad. I’ll call you,” he recounted. “And he never called me back.”
Dajae Coleman was returning from that house party on McDaniel when he was fatally shot about 10:30 p.m. Saturday. He was walking with some friends, including his coach’s son, east on Church Street, heading to his father house on the 1300 block of Foster, said his mother, Tiffany Rice.
Police confirmed receiving calls of “shots fired” not far from the fatal shooting prior to the incident. One came from Darrow and Lyons, and it was believed to have resulted from an altercation between individuals, police confirmed.
One resident of a home close to the shooting reported hearing a round of five shots fired near the scene, followed by anther round of five shots. A bunch of youths then began running down the street following the shooting, she said, one scaling a fence.
Police are making progress in the case, Police Commander Jay Parrott, the department’s spokesman, said Tuesday. Anyone with information on the case is asked to call 847-866-5040.
Within just two days of his death, more than 2,800 people had signed on to a Facebook page, Stop the Violence Evanston. Ruby Macsai-Goren, an ETHS student, set up the site as place for students to voice their grief and suggest constructive steps moving forward.
“It’s a terrible situation. It’s really hit our community hard,” she said.
Dajae’s former football coach, Tyrone Wilson, Sr., said he watched Coleman grow into a brilliant athlete, as well as person, since he was 6.
“He was the kind of kid who any coach would have wanted to coach. He was just a guy who led by example,” he said.
Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and Alderman Peter Braithwaite and Delores Holmes wore grim looks Sunday as they visited homes in the area where the shooting occurred, offering condolences and assuring residents their neighborhood was safe.
The mayor vowed to make even stronger efforts to rid the area of guns.
“He (Dajae) did everything right,” she said. “We’ve got to get guns out of peoples’ hands.”
At the school, a brief statement was read about Dajae over the intercom system and was followed by a moment of silence. Grief counselors were made available to students Monday and Tuesday.
Dajae’s mother, Tiffany Rice, recalled her son’s infectious sense of humor.
“He made me laugh so much,’’ she said. “From the time he got up until the time he went to bed everything was a joke with him.”
When asked by reporters what feelings she might bear toward those responsible for taking her son’s life, they “have some owning up to do,” she said Monday. “Someone is going to have to answer … to live with this the rest of their lives.”
Information about a memorial fund set up in Dajae’s honor is on the school’s website, as is an essay he wrote two days prior to his death.
In the essay, written for his Humanities class, Coleman expressed gratitude for his loved ones.
“My friends and family really care about me, they get me things I need, and they make sure I am always doing good in school,” he wrote. “My mom pushes me to do better, she always tells me never to 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.”
Funeral services are scheduled for Saturday at First Church of God Christian Center, 1524 Simpson St., with a wake at 10 a.m. followed by services.
— Sun-Times Media reporters Mark Konkol and Natasha Korecki contributed to this report