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Hundreds pay respects to teen killed over his winter coat

More than 500 friends, classmates, teachers and family members came to a South Side funeral home to say goodbye Friday night to Demario Bailey, a 15-year-old boy shot and killed last Saturday afternoon over his winter coat.

Demario, an honor student at the Johnson College Prep charter school, was in a casket dressed in a bow tie and his school pullover sweater, surrounded by flowers.

Pictures of Demario — always with his twin brother Demacio — faded in and out over monitors overhead, showing the smiling boys from their days in Little League to their eighth-grade graduation.

Demacio, who was with his brother when he was shot, sat under one monitor, surrounded by family with his hands in his jacket pockets.

“He’s being strong for the memory of his brother,” said Martique Taylor, a friend and classmate of the twins.

“He loved to make people happy and he was always a fun person to be around,” Taylor said of Demario. “I never saw him mad a day in his life. The only time he was sad was when he couldn’t find his twin.”

His school friends crowded around a whiteboard to write their thoughts.

“Why do the good die young?” one wrote.

“I never thought it would be you,” wrote another.

Others stood outside the wake at Calahan Funeral Home at 7030 S Halsted, remembering their friend.

Demario was a hard worker, the kind of kid who would show up at 6:30 a.m. for extra credit classes, said Kiera Wiley, 15.

“He always was where he had to be,” Wiley said.

His fifth-grade teacher echoed those sentiments.

“He was friendly, outgoing and a hard worker,” she said.

“He was a good kid with good parents, a good grandmother and a good family life,” said the teacher, who did not want her name used.

Demario’s cousin, Clarence Watson, thanked everyone who has supported the family.

“I just pray to God that someone gets something good out of this, so the violence will stop all the way around here,” Watson said.

Jessica Robinson didn’t know Demario, but was among those who showed up at Calahan anyway to pay her respects.

“This senseless killing has to cease,” she said. “There’s no way this young man should be laying in a casket over a jacket.”

Four teenagers have been arrested and charged with murder and armed robbery. The shooting happened under a viaduct on 63rd Street just west of State Street at 12:30 p.m. as Demario was walking his brother to basketball practice at Johnson Prep.

A visitation, followed by a funeral service, starts 9 a.m. Saturday at the New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church, 754 E. 77th St.