‘One of the good ones’: Evanston teen, 14, killed
BY MARK KONKOL AND NATASHA KORECKI Staff Reporters September 23, 2012 11:38AM
Dajae Coleman, 14, of Evanston was shot to death Saturday night.
Updated: October 25, 2012 6:16AM
Dajae Coleman was shot dead in Evanston Saturday night. He was 14.
The Evanston Township High School freshman that everybody called “Dae Dae” 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. “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.”
On Saturday, Dajae asked his father for permission to go to a party with his pals that 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.’ … And he never called me back.”
At about 10:30 p.m., Dajae was fatally shot in the 1500 block of Church Street. Friends say he was leaving a party when he was shot. About 45 minutes later, Dajae’s mother, Tiffany Rice, called Coleman and told him to come to the police station.
“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.
On Sunday, Evanston Police were working with the North Regional Major Crimes Task Force on the investigation. The teen was walking with friends when four shots were fired, one of which struck him in the chest, Evanston Police said.
“It’s an active investigation and we’re not releasing any details,” Evanston Police spokesman Perry Polinski said Sunday.
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.”
On Sunday, social media lit up with memorials to Dajae, including a Facebook page titled “RIP Dajae Coleman.”
On Twitter, friends and fans paid 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.
Dajae’s former football coach, Tyrone Wilson Sr., said he watched Coleman grow into a brilliant athlete — and person — since he was six 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.”
Contributing: Bob Seidenberg