In three days, Demario Bailey would have turned 16.
Saturday afternoon in Englewood, he and his twin brother Demacio were walking to Demacio’s basketball practice when four would-be robbers demanded the teenager’s jacket.
“Some guys came upon him and tried to rob him of his jacket,” said Demario’s aunt, Michelle Fitzpatrick. “Our nephew wouldn’t give up his coat, and they shot him in the chest.”
The shooting happened at 12:40 p.m. in the 0-100 block of West 63rd Street. Seven minutes later, Demario was pronounced dead under a viaduct there.
Later, when his body was taken away, his mother wailed and shouted, “I want my baby back!”
On Saturday night, police said they were questioning at least two people in connection with the shooting, but they had been released without charges by Sunday morning.
Demario was a sophomore at Johnson College Prep charter school, 6350 S. Stewart.
That’s where he and his brother were headed Saturday, walking the remaining half mile or so from the CTA bus they’d taken to get there.
Though Demario wasn’t on the school basketball team like this brother, he “was basically a part of the team, was always there supporting us,” said Ceddrick Hunter, the school’s basketball coach. “He was the unathletic one. They were twins, always together. He was a good kid, all-around good kid, always respectful.
“There was not an ounce of gang stuff with either one of them,” Hunter said. “He just wanted to be there for his brother, wanted to walk with him to practice to keep him safe.”
Word of the shooting quickly reached the school. Another boy ran the whole way there with the heartbreaking news.
Demario got good grades and didn’t get into trouble, according to Robin Callahan, an assistant junior varsity basketball coach, who said he and his twin are known around school as the “Bailey boys,” hard to tell apart because they’re identical.
“I know I speak for every educator who continuously deals with this type of tragedy in saying we are sick and tired of being sick and tired,” Johnson College Prep Principal Dr. Garland Thomas-McDavid said in an email.
“I speak for every mother who lives on the South Side of this city in saying we don’t mind if it takes [martial law] to get this in order,” Thomas-McDavid said.
Their mother, very protective of her sons, usually drove them most places, according to their aunt. But the boys were getting older and wanted more independence, Fitzpatrick said. On Saturday, she finally let them take the bus to practice.
“She let them go and now …,” Fitzpatrick said, her words trailing off, tears rolling down her cheeks.
School officials said a fund was being set up to help Bailey’s family pay for burial services, and that counseling would be provided for students and staff this week.
A $1,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest, community activist Andrew Holmes said. Anyone with information was asked to call 1-800-UTELLUS.
“We do so much to keep them out of trouble,” Callahan said. “But this not only tears our school apart, it tears our community apart.”
Contributing: Michael O’Brien