Under a dark viaduct in Englewood, four muggers stood in front of 15-year-old identical twins Demario and Demacio Bailey.
As they patted down Demacio for valuables Saturday afternoon, Demario shouted, “Get off my brother, he doesn’t have anything!”
One of the muggers turned his attention to Demario’s coat: a navy blue Columbia winter jacket.
But Demario refused to give it up. His mother, a single parent who waitresses at a South Side restaurant, recently spent hundreds of dollars on her sons’ coats, according to their aunt and godmother, Sharron Lee.
So the mugger shot Demario, killing him, Lee said.
When his body was taken away, Demario’s mother wailed and shouted, “I want my baby back!”
Sunday afternoon, police said they’d caught the gunman who tore the inseparable brothers apart.
Carlos Johnson, 17, of the 6100 block of South Martin Luther King Drive was charged as an adult with murder, robbery and attempted robbery. Johnson, who was also charged with another robbery that occurred shortly before Demario was killed, is due to appear in court Monday. When asked about the search for the three other muggers, a police spokesman said only that the investigation is ongoing.
The brothers were headed to their school, Johnson College Prep charter school, 6350 S. Stewart, where Demacio had basketball practice Saturday. They were walking the half mile from the bus stop near the school when the muggers confronted the 6 foot tall brothers.
Demacio Sunday was being consoled by his tight-knit family. His mother routinely shuttled her boys around town to avoid Chicago’s violent streets, but let them take the bus that afternoon because she wasn’t feeling well, relatives said.
“Demacio is heartbroken,” said the boy’s aunt, Michelle Fitzpatrick.
The brothers—three days shy of their 16th birthday— planned to have a party at Dave & Busters on the Near North Side. Demario’s death also cast a pall over Christmas, the family said. The boys had yet to decorate the tree at their home in Chatham.
The pair were so close that Demario would often accompany his brother to basketball practice, even though Demario wasn’t on the team.
“He was deeply committed to his brother,” said Ketica Guter, a teacher at Johnson Prep. “They did everything together.”
Demario may not have excelled in sports like his brother, but, as part of the Puma Power Prep Squad at Johnson College Prep, he showed up at games to bang on a drum and amp up the crowd.
Classmates and teachers spoke of their bond: They were “Joined at the hip,” or “A package deal,” “Like shadows of each other.”
Demario dreamed of going to college, starting a career as a police officer or an attorney and moving his mother and brother away from Chicago’s violent streets, according to Demario’s classmate and close friend, Charles Kirk.
As a testament to what a beloved student he was, Chicago Public School administrators on Sunday took the rare step of allowing reporters into the school gymnasium, where teachers and classmates alike praised the honor roll student for his work ethic and bottomless good spirit.
“He was wonderful, absolutely wonderful, said teacher Rachel Terry. “He always wanted to go to office hours to get his GPA up… And he would always take off his glasses when he wanted to try to sleep,” she said with a laugh.
Demario’s friends said he would tease and prod them until they smiled.
“Every time I saw him he’d say, ‘What’s up, Michael Jordan?’” Shamay Miller recalled. “And I said, ‘Why do you call me that?,’ and he said, ‘Because your forehead is always shiny.’”
As a freshman, Demario occasionally took off his glasses and posed as his brother. The gag didn’t work this year because Demario sported a fade hair cut and his brother had an afro, friends said.
“He was like one of them zesty people, he was always putting smiles on peoples’ faces,” said Kirk, who added that Demario wanted to attend the University of Illinois.
“We can honestly say he was a good kid who did not deserve this,” Johnson Principal Dr. Garland Thomas-McDavid told her students Sunday.
Earlier, in an email, Thomas-McDavid said: “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.”
Thomas-McDavid added, “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.”
Jakia Powell, a sophomore at Johnson, said Demario’s death made her realize the pointlessness of petty arguments. On Sunday, she went around making peace with anyone she may have offended.
“Because you can be here one day and gone the next,” Powell said. “And I never even knew that Thursday was going to be my last time seeing him.”
Anyone wishing to donate to the family to help cover the cost of the funeral can do so by going to the website set up by administrators at Johnson College Prep.