JACKSON, Miss. — A shooting at an apartment complex on the Jackson State University campus in Mississippi left a student from Chicagoland dead over the weekend.
Jaylen Burns, 21, graduated from Hillcrest High School in Country Club Hills, before going on to JSU, where he was a senior majoring in industrial technology.
“We were all so proud of Jaylen,” La’Trice Wright, Burns’ mother, said.
According to JSU officials, Burns was transported to the hospital Sunday night from campus after reports of shots fired at the University Pointe Apartment Complex. Few details on the shooting have been released and JSU said the Jackson Police Department and Capitol Police are working together on the investigation.
“To whoever took my son, they didn’t just take him from me, they took him from the world,” Wright said.
Wright said some of their family traveled to Jackson for homecoming weekend to celebrate everything her son had accomplished. It was just hours after she said her goodbyes and prepared to travel back to Illinois when Wright got the news.
“I was on my way back to Chicago and I got a phone call while I was at the airport that my son had been shot, and so, I had to turn around and come back,” Wright, Burns’ mother, said.
Wright said she never made it back to Jackson before her son died from his injuries.
“This he did not deserve. I don’t even know what happened to my son,” Wright said. “I wouldn’t wish this pain on anybody.
Burns’ family and friends said he was a bright, ambitious, and kind young man, with a heart of gold and a personality that could lift the spirits of anyone he met. He recently finished a summer internship and was looking forward to attending graduate school after receiving his engineering degree.
“He was on the dean’s list for the past three years,” Wright said. “When I say my son was doing great things, he was doing great things.”
Wright said her son always wanted to become a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and was able to reach that goal last March.
Dr. Elayne H. Anthony, acting president of JSU, shared a statement on the university’s Facebook page, mourning the loss of Burns. Classes were canceled Monday as grief and counseling services were offered to the JSU community.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Jaylen’s family, friends and all those who knew him,” the statement read. “He was an ambitious and bright young man, who believed in being of service as a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and president of the C100 Chapter at JSU, an affiliate of the 100 Black Men of America. We grieve the tragic loss of his life due to this senseless act of violence.”
Even years later, Burns’ impact is still being felt among the Hillcrest High School community.
Staff with the Hillcrest Hawks Football program said Burns was a bright light in the world, a beacon of positivity every time he walked into a room, and an incredibly talented student-athlete.
His mom said he was a captain his senior year and was well-loved by everyone in the program.
Wright said they remain in Mississippi as they navigate the next steps and work to bring her son home for a proper burial.
They’re pleading to anyone with information, to come forward and help their family find answers.
“If you know who took my light away from me, please, I’m begging you. I’m begging you, please help me,” Wright said.
No arrests have been announced by police in Jackson.