16-year-old Dawson Stephan was shot in the head while sitting on the porch of his family’s Chicago home, Friday night.
The Chicago Tribune is reporting that the shooting was a drive-by. Dawson is on life support according to his family.
The teenager is the youngest of nine siblings, and helped out with family expenses by delivering newspapers with two of his brothers. Dawson’s father recently fell ill, and he wanted to work to help with the bills.
Dawson was sitting on the porch with two of his brothers after finishing work when a white mini-van pulled up. The driver or an occupant fired at them about a dozen times. One of the bullets hit Dawson in the side of the head.
Dawson’s brother & mother tried to carry him to the family car to take him to the hospital. He was bleeding heavily. Police arrived and had the teen put into an ambulance.
Dawson’s mother, Michelle Stephan, has been at her son’s bedside ever since the shooting. The Tribune reports her sobbing as she spoke to a reporter: “He is my baby, I am looking at him right now. I haven’t left here since last night, and I don’t plan to.” “I told him that I loved him with all my soul … that this wasn’t supposed to happen, I’m sorry.”
After the shooting, Dawson’s older brother, Andrew Stephan, had jumped in his car in an attempt to get the license plate number of the mini-van but he couldn’t find it. He told the Tribune that the family has lived in the same house for 18 years, and that gang violence is “getting worse and worse.” Andrew stated that Dawson has never been involved in a gang.
Dawson’s mother said that gangs have “been trying to come after my boys for quite some time,” according to the Tribune.
“It’s hard for a child who is sweet and innocent and vibrant to lose his life to this gang violence,” she said. His mother added, “He wanted to be a Marine. He had his whole life in front of him.”
The husband of one of Dawson’s sisters posted this to his Facebook page:
To date, there have been 269 homicides in Chicago in 2016. Approximately 74% of victims & perpetrators are black. In this case, it appears Dawson is a victim of black-on-white violence.
Melrose Park, a suburb of Chicago where the shooting occurred, is 2 miles from Maywood, Illinois.
Maywood, whose residents are predominately African-American, has a notoriously high crime rate, and is known to harbor a large number of gangs. The crime rate in Melrose Park, which is predominately white, is far lower.