A quiet crowd held a vigil Thursday evening along the narrow street at the spot where Senn High School student Daveon Gibson was shot and killed Wednesday. Gibson, 16, was walking with two other Senn students, who were shot and wounded.
Bouquets of white, pink and yellow flowers lay on a pink heart drawn on the sidewalk with chalk. “You Matter to Us” was chalked next to the heart.
More than 50 people gathered to remember Gibson, of Humboldt Park, starting the night with a prayer. Edgewater neighbors and friends joined to tell stories and advocate for safer streets for students walking to and from the high school in the Edgewater neighborhood.
Peg Dublin did not witness the shooting Wednesday, but she told the crowd how her daughter-in-law, who lives nearby, held Daveon in her arms after he was shot, as he was dying. Her daughter-in-law was “not doing well,” still shaken by the tragedy, Dublin said.
“She held him in her arms until he died, and she will never be the same again, as will the family never be the same again,” Dublin said.
The three victims were walking in the 1200 block of West Thorndale Avenue, just east of Senn, when gunmen inside a vehicle got out and opened fire on the teens around 4 p.m. Wednesday. The shooting has been ruled a homicide, according to the Chicago Police Department. But by Thursday evening, there were no suspects in custody as detectives investigated.
During the vigil, Dublin called on the community to help protect students walking in the neighborhood, particularly the stretch of Thorndale between Senn and the Thorndale CTA “L” stop, which many students take after school.
“I feel like if we can create a safe passage, we can show these kids that we care,” Dublin said.
In the hours leading up to the 30-minute vigil, there was a strong police presence along that stretch of Thorndale, with several Chicago police cars and uniformed officers standing on the sidewalk.
Matt Sweetman, pastor of Trinity Church and a father of two boys,14 and 16, called on fathers to step up to protect young boys from gun violence.
“Men need to take a strong interest in the lives of young boys and young boys that come from broken situations,” he said. “That is one thing that maybe some of us can do.”
The shooting occurred in front of Trinity Church, and Sweetman’s two sons were five minutes down the block when they heard shots. His 16-year-old played basketball with Daveon but did not know the student well, he said.
Sweetman encouraged the crowd of Edgewater residents to go to the police with any information.
He then led them in singing “Amazing Grace” as they held candles.
Several participants said they went to Senn and described a school community filled with good kids.
“The light will never go out in this community,” said Andrea Raila, who lives in the area and attended summer school at Senn.
After the service wrapped up, people milled around, hugging each other and stopping to sign a cardboard stand with “Daveon” before walking home.
The shooting came nearly a week after two teens were fatally shot after leaving high school in the Loop. There was no evidence the shootings were related, according to CPD.