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CHICAGO —  Family and friends of Caleb Reed gathered outside Mather High School Tuesday afternoon to remember his short life that was filled with so much promise.

Friday afternoon, 17-year-old Caleb Reed was found shot in the head in the 1900 block of west Granville Avenue and was rushed to the hospital. Friends says he was a bystander, hit by a stray bullet. He died two days later.

His mother Sabrina Pleasant, still consumed with grief, spoke with the help of a sign language interpreter.

“It’s so hard for me to express it, I don’t have the words, I just have to say, I love you Caleb,” Pleasant said.

For more than a year, Reed had been active in bringing attention to the root causes of gun violence.  Most recently, he advocated for removing Chicago police from public schools. 

Chicago Alderman Roderick Sawyer (D-6th Ward) recalled meeting Caleb a few months ago as the teen worked to convince him to put forth an ordinance to get Chicago police out of public schools. 

Sawyer said he was on the fence until Caleb shared his story of being arrested and spending six hours in a police station for not having an ID on him while attending a high school basketball game.

“He was the he was the driving force that convinced me that this was the right thing to do,” Sawyer said.

Family and friends released orange balloons — Caleb’s favorite color — in his honor as they lamented the irony of Caleb fighting to end gun violence only to die of a gunshot wound himself.

“It’s not fair that you fight so hard for something that you just die for, that shows that our city needs to start paying attention,” said Meyiya Coleman, a friend and fellow activist.

Caleb Reed was to be a senior this year at Mather High School, and next week the local school council will be voting on whether to keep Chicago police in the high school. Activists are encouraging the council to vote no in Caleb’s honor.