CHICAGO — It’s been a difficult 24 hours for the Simeon High School community.
On Tuesday, 15-year-old Jamari Williams, who played football for the school, was shot and killed. Another 15-year-old, identified as Kentrell McNeal, died Wednesday morning following a double shooting Tuesday evening in a separate incident. He, too, attended Simeon High School.
As Chicago police search for the killer of the Simeon High School football player, friends and family of the young man gathered Wednesday in remembrance. Officials told WGN that Williams and a group of other students had just left school when someone opened fire at the Chatham Market shopping center.
According to police, offenders inside a black vehicle drove up and opened fire, fatally striking Williams in the chest. Williams also lost his dad in the last year to gun violence.
At Ogden Park, community members paid tribute to Williams, a junior varsity football team member. Mourners described Williams as a good kid who just wanted to play ball.
Keith Harris, a former football coach of Williams, told WGN that the 15-year-old is among more than a dozen former players he’s lost in the last few years.
“These are like my sons. I helped raise them,” Harris said. “I’m with these kids every day. When you’re around them, it hurts because it’s like a piece of you is gone.”
Darryl Smith also coached Williams.
“It hits hard when you see teenagers don’t get to live life to the fullest,” Smith said.
Smith and Harris both share another heartbreak: the loss of their sons to gun violence.
Limited details surround the shooting that claimed the life of 15-year-old Kentrell McNeal. The juvenile was shot alongside a 14-year-old. Both teenagers were inside a car near 52nd and S. Lake Park Avenue when gunfire erupted.
McNeal was rushed to the hospital and later pronounced dead.
The 14-year-old, at last check, was in critical condition.
WGN reached out to Chicago Public Schools for a statement. In part, the district said, “With great sadness, we are devastated to see the loss of another young life. CPS extends its condolences to the family and friends impacted by this loss.”
The district added that they would provide support services to students and staff members.
No one is in custody for either shooting.