"Derrion has never been in a fight in his life," said Joe Walker, Derrion's grandfather who raised him. "He never raised his voice. Not in 16 years have I had one day of trouble."
Walker broke down several times speaking about his grandson, proudly showing off the awards he received at Christian Fenger Academy High School for excellent attendance and being on the honor roll. Derrion had just started his junior year.
"We were crazy about him," Walker said. "He was the type of grandson everybody wished for."
Monique Bond, Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman, said Derrion "basically was walking along unprovoked, and unbeknownst to him he was about to walk into this conflict. I don't think he even saw them coming."
T-Awannda Piper, a youth worker at the Agape Community Center in the 300 block of West 111th Street, witnessed the brawl. She said the fight started with about a dozen high school students, then quickly escalated to about 100, about 3 p.m. Thursday.
"They had sticks; they were fighting with their hands; they were taking off their shirts and throwing them on the ground," she said. "I saw [Derrion] get hit twice with a stick."
She said Derrion fell to his knees, then was hit again in the head. He was unconscious but alive when she dragged him into the building with the help of a man driving through a nearby alley who abandoned his truck to assist.
Derrion was pronounced dead at 6:17 p.m. at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, the Cook County medical examiner's office said.
He died of cerebral injuries and blunt head trauma from assault, the medical examiner's office said.
While the family did not believe Derrion was involved with a gang, several people have been victims of gang violence in the far South Side neighborhood over the summer.
On Thursday morning, shots were fired outside Fenger. No one was hit, but a teenager was arrested and the incident was believed to be gang-related, said Officer Jo Ann Taylor, a Chicago Police spokeswoman.
Taylor said police are investigating any role gangs might have played in Thursday's fatal melee.
Bond said the school district was told there is possibly a conflict between two "factions," but "it has nothing to do with the school." She also said the fight and the Thursday morning shooting outside Fenger are not believed to be related.
Those in the community said they are tired and scared of the violence.
"It's nuts. It's escalating," said Milton Massie, director of the Agape Community Center, who saw surveillance video of the fight. "This was mob action."
Toya Truitt, who has two sons at Fenger, said tensions between kids living in the Altgeld Gardens housing project and those living near the school have been on the rise.
"A lot of kids don't want to come back" to school, she said. "This boy [Derrion] was innocent. He was a kid going home."
Walker said he and his late wife had raised Derrion since he was a baby. When the boy's mother moved to Downstate Mount Vernon, he chose not to go with her, wanting to stay in Chicago.
When his grandmother was diagnosed with cancer several years ago, Derrion doted on her, Walker said.
"He was 14 years old, and he would come home and take care of her," he said.
After Derrion's grandmother died last September, he lived on and off with Eunice Cross, the grandmother of his 10-year-old half-sister, but when she needed more space for other family members, Derrion moved back in with Walker.
"He was a quiet young man around the house," Cross said. "He didn't talk much."
His grandfather said he spent most evenings doing schoolwork on his computer. On the walls of the computer room, cheerful family photos surrounded a handwritten list of "Affirmations for Living" that Derrion wrote, Walker said.
"I would surround myself with people who bring out the best in me," the list reads. "I would rid myself of the negativity in my life, including friends and significant others. I would do something nice for someone, just because." source
Sep 28, 2009
Posted By:Savvy Sista | At:8:34 AM
There is a video of the mob beating. I just don't have the stomach to place it here on the site, but if you want to watch it you can click here. The police are begging anyone who can identify any of the people allegedly involved in the death of Derrion Albert, please call Area Two of the Chicago Police Dept. That number is 312-747-8272.