By Cat Zakrzewski and John Carpenter
Homicide Watch Chicago
Stephon Wright was a fun-loving jokester of an 18-year-old. Although he was struggling to finish high school and had recently dropped out of an alternative program, police say the Morgan Park teen - killed Monday night as he sat in a car with friends - had no documented gang affiliations.
“He wasn’t doing anything but sitting in a car,” said Priscilla Adams, whose son, Antonio, was sitting with him, along with Wright’s girlfriend.
Police said that an unidentified car pulled onto the block at about 8 p.m., opening fire into the driver’s side of the car where Wright was sitting. The gunman then stepped out of the car and began shooting again.
The car was parked across the street from Adams’ house. She said she heard the shots and ran toward the street, only to be pulled back by friends who feared for her safety.
“The guy was still in the street and he was still shooting,” she said.
All three people in the car ran in different directions. But a police source said Wright may have stumbled when his pants slipped down. Adams said she didn’t know anything about that. Wright was first shot in the leg, and she speculated he may have fallen from that wound. He fell next to a tree and tried to get up, only to be shot again, this time in the head.
Adams said the ambulance came quickly, but not quickly enough. Wright was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at Roseland Community Hospital.
“The sirens got here fast, but they didn’t get here fast enough,” Adams said.
On Wednesday, some of Wright’s friends gathered around that tree, where splatters of his blood were beginning to dry on the trunk, and a pool of dried blood could be seen on the ground. There were messages on a poster board, some of which appeared to be smeared in blood.
Antonio Adams had left a small teddy bear, his mother said.
“He’s takin’ it hard,” Adams said.
Wright was described as a popular and well-liked friend. Adams said he was always respectful and remembered him listening to rap and playing video games with her son.
“He loved having fun and being around his friend,” 16-year-old Alexis Brown said, wiping away tears as she wrote a message on the memorial.
Wright had attended Julian High School, where he was punter on the football team. His former coach said he could get anyone around him to laugh.
“He was just a jokester,” Coach Jason Richardson said. “A practical jokester.”
Richardson coached Wright in 2011, the second of his two-year stint with the team. He called Wright “a good kid” and “a decent player.”
“All he wanted to do was kick, kick, kick,” Richardson said.
Wright left the team last year when he was unable to attend practices for personal reasons, Richardson said. Richardson said he still came to practices to see the senior players, his friends.
“He was a great teammate,” Richardson said. “He was a pretty popular kid.”
Wright, of the 10800 block of South Racine, had transferred to an alternative school, Excel Academy of Chicago. Tyree Booker, Excel’s executive director, said he was on track to earn a degree by June of 2014, but dropped out this past May.
“I happened to see Stephon near the end of the school year and he indicated he wanted to try again next year,” Booker said. “We are about giving students second chances and sometimes third chances, so we still had hope he would return and finish high school. All of us are deeply saddened by the news.”