John Carpenter and Cat Zakrzewski
Homicide Watch Chicago
If Ed Cooper loved playing video games in his bedroom even more than the typical 15-year-old boy, his mother let it slide. Those games, and his beloved pet cat, kept him out of reach of the gangs in Lawndale.
“He would stay in the house and watch TV and eat cereal all day,” she said.
But even Cooper, an A and B student at Orr Academy High School who police confirmed had no gang ties, liked to get outside every once in a while to play real basketball with his friends.
That was the plan Monday evening, when he was murdered.
Cooper’s father dropped him off at Lawndale and Ohio a little after 5 p.m. He didn’t notice the black van that rolled up nearby at about the same time, and didn’t think anything was amiss until he heard five gunshots as he was pulling away.
He turned around and saw his son lying on the ground in a vacant lot across the street.
“He was running and they shot him,” Jerome Wordlaw said.
A police source said a black van pulled up near the park where Cooper and his friends were standing. A gunman walked up to them and started shooting as the boys ran away. Cooper was shot in the street and continued running, falling in the middle of a vacant lot. A patch of blood-stained ground could still be seen Tuesday on the spot where he died.
The source said the shooting appears to have been part of a dispute between rival gangs, though it is not known precisely why the group Cooper was standing with was targeted.
Charlotte Wordlaw, Cooper’s mother, was also in the neighborhood at the time, and heard the shots. She thought they were fireworks, but a boy ran up behind her and told her “Ed’s been shot.”
“I get there and pull up the one-way street, my baby laying there in their arms in a vacant lot on Lawndale and Ohio.”
Wordlaw said Tuesday she was still angry at police for not letting her go to her son as he lay on the ground.
“I said: ‘My son is taking his last breath. If my son is gonna die right here, goddamn it, let me see him die.’”
Wordlaw said her son, the third of four children, was a homebody. But she didn’t mind since it kept him off the streets.
“I try to keep him from going over there,” she said, adding that some friends teased him for not playing outside enough. “They be teasing (saying): ‘You don’t do nothing. You don’t come outside.’ But you see when he do come outside, they take his life. An innocent child.”
Cooper was entering his junior year, and was starting to think about options for college. His mother said he hoped to study criminal justice, and to become a police officer.
Cooper would have turned 16 July 22. He asked for an outfit from a popular clothing line, which his mother said she got for him.
“My baby wanted a True Religion outfit. Now I have to bury my baby in his True Religion outfit.”