GREATER GRAND CROSSING — Vondale Singleton asked students in her first-period mentoring class to write down 10 life goals at the start of the school year.
Seandell Holliday, an intellectual and quiet student at Gary Comer College Prep, caught up with his teacher at the second period bell with a list saying he wanted to open a music studio, take care of his family and be respected, said Singleton. He also hoped to reach 21, Singleton said.
“I’ll never forget. He was like, ‘Because there’s a lot going on in Chicago, Mr. Singleton. Kids are losing their lives and getting shot for crazy stuff,'” Singleton said Monday. in a million years, I thought he would have his life cut short by gun violence at 16.”
Holliday, 16, was shot in the chest around 7.30pm on Saturday at The Bean in the 200 block of Randolph Street, police said. He was taken to Lurie Children’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
A 17-year-old boy arrested shortly after the shooting has been charged with second-degree murder, aggravated bodily harm and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon in connection with the shooting. He was sentenced to $250,000 bond on Monday, according to the Tribune.
Prosecutors said Monday that hundreds of people were in Millennium Park that night as part of a large rally promoted on social media, according to the Tribune. The 17-year-old noticed a group nearby that included a boy he had fought with at a previous event, and the group began following the 17-year-old, prosecutors said.
One person in the group began to argue with the 17-year-old, whose friend tried to pull him away, prosecutors said. At that time, prosecutors said Holliday jumped on the 17-year-old from behind and punched him in the head, according to the Tribune. After another person punched the 17-year-old, the teenager pulled out a gun and shot Holliday in the chest, prosecutors said.
Officers arrested the 17-year-old in Millennium Park and found a handgun, prosecutors said. Much of the shooting was captured in videos posted to social media, footage from nearby surveillance cameras as well as officers’ body cameras, prosecutors said.
Holliday’s family could not immediately be reached for comment.
Holliday was a freshman at Gary Comer College Prep, 7131 S. Chicago Ave., and a member of the CHAMPS mentorship program that educates and empowers young men of color. Singleton, a former vice-principal at South Side School, founded the program ten years ago.
Holliday is the eldest of four children and turned 16 in March, Singleton said.
“He was one of my babies, one of my young men. He’s not another faceless stat,” Singleton said. “He was a young man I spent countless days with. … He was a young man with dreams, aspirations and goals. He was a soul who wanted to understand and know what his purpose was in life and see it happen.
Singleton said he called Holliday’s mother when he saw her student’s name in the headlines.
“All I could hear was crying through the phone, ‘My baby, my baby, my baby,'” Singleton said. “No one ever wants to wish that on anyone. Hear that…. It’s a nightmarish sound that never goes away.
Singleton said he remembers Holliday best as a “deep thinker”.
“He didn’t say much, but when he did it was powerful,” Singleton said. “He was very authentic to who he was, and he taught me to be a better person through his authenticity, even though he was younger.”
Richard Martin, Dean of Students at Noble Schools, said in a Facebook post that he was “angry, shocked and deeply saddened” by Holliday’s death.
“The reality that I just saw him walk into class last week and will have to enter the building tomorrow to help our school community process and heal from this loss when I myself am in such a loss seems like a too heavy a task to bear”, says Martine. “Seandell, you will be greatly missed and our Catamount family will be changed forever.”
Following Holliday’s death, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that young people would be banned from Millennium Park after 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday unless accompanied by a “responsible adult.”
On Monday, Lightfoot said she would sign an executive order to move the weekend curfew for minors from 11 p.m. to 10 p.m.
“I urge parents, guardians and responsible adults in children’s lives to make sure you know the rules,” Lightfoot said at a press conference. “We will continue to encourage parents and guardians to ensure their children behave appropriately and safely at all times.”
Singleton said Lightfoot called him on Sunday to discuss his “strategies, thoughts and opinions” on Millennium Park’s 6 p.m. rule.
Lightfoot’s plan is “one way of looking at it,” Singleton said, but he believes city leaders need to engage with parents, communities and young people to find a workable and sustainable way to deter the crime and to keep young people engaged rather than isolated. some parts of the city.
“I think we need to have a broader conversation about economic empowerment, engagement and ownership to make our black and brown youth feel like they’re part of the city,” Singleton said. “They should have the right to be able to go downtown. I don’t think it’s a long-term solution or an ultimate strategy.
It’s time to listen to what young people need and support programs with their boots on the ground in the community before tragedy strikes, Singleton said.
“I think it’s really important that young people are involved in everything we do strategically for the city, because if we’re not listening, what’s the point?” said Singleton. “There are going to be policies and barriers, and we know that brings controversy.”