16-year-old killed in Woodlawn had moved to Chicago against mom’s wishes. ‘He thought I was stopping him from living his best life’

Uriel Rogers-Knox’s personality was “big and beautiful,” his mother said, but he was also headstrong and wanted badly to live in Chicago.

SHARE 16-year-old killed in Woodlawn had moved to Chicago against mom’s wishes. ‘He thought I was stopping him from living his best life’
Uriel Rogers-Knox (far right) pictured with family. He was killed Tuesday in a shooting on Chicago’s South Side.

Uriel Rogers-Knox (far right) pictured with family. He was killed Tuesday in a shooting on Chicago’s South Side.

Photo provided by family

A 16-year-old boy shot and killed this week in Woodlawn had come to Chicago against his family’s wishes, running away from his Minneapolis home months ago.

Uriel Rogers-Knox’s personality was “big and beautiful,” his mother said Thursday, but he was also headstrong and wanted badly to live in Chicago, where there was extended family.

“He thought I was blocking him,” Negaya Knoxsaid Thursday. “His exact words were that I was stopping him from living his best life. And we all went to bed that night, and when I got up in the morning he was gone.”

Uriel’s mother still doesn’t know exactly who he was staying with in Chicago, where she grew up.

“I am upset with the adults who were around my son, who are reaching out to me now but made no good-faith effort to find me,” she said.

Uriel was shot in the face shortly after 4 p.m. Tuesday two blocks south of the University of Chicago. Someone walked up to him and opened fire in the 6200 block of South Greenwood Avenue, then fled into a home on the block, police said.

A friend said Uriel was alert when he was placed into the ambulance and taken to University of Chicago Medical Center. But he died at the hospital.

Sir Mario Ford, 19, is charged with Uriel's murder, police announced Thursday night. Ford is scheduled to appear for a bond hearing Friday.

Uriel was a “very spirited kid” and was not involved in gangs, said the friend who asked not to be named.

Chicago police work the scene where a 16-year-old boy was shot and critically wounded in the 6200 block of South Greenwood Avenue in the Woodlawn neighborhood, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022.

Chicago police work the scene where a 16-year-old boy was shot and critically wounded in the 6200 block of South Greenwood Avenue in the Woodlawn neighborhood, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Uriel was one of two teenage boys killed in Chicago Tuesday. Less than an hour earlier, 15-year-old Michael Brown was gunned down while walking home from school in Bronzeville. A 16-year-old boy was charged in his murder.

Uriel was the second youngest of six children, his mother said. He loved water parks and barbecue, and every year for his birthday he requested both of them together: barbecue at a waterpark, she said.

“He was a straight shooter, a jokester, protector,” his mother said.

Uriel would sometimes step in to diffuse a situation “just to make sure the kid that was being bullied was protected,” she said.

Uriel Rogers-Knox

Uriel Rogers-Knox

Provided by family

He was also very intuitive, she said. “He told me I was pregnant with my daughter before I even knew it,” she said.

When he was 4, she had come home from work, skipping the usual bedtime story with her son for an early night’s rest, telling him that she had the flu. “He sat down on the bed, put my hand on my stomach and said, ‘No, Mom, you’re pregnant,’” she recalled. She went to the doctor the next day and learned she was expecting.

His aunt, Lashanda Richards, said she remembers Uriel’s “smile, that silly smile.”

He was so close to two of his cousins, she called them “The Three Musketeers.”

“He was the baby of the bunch, but he was always so kind and loving,” Richards said. “Even in all that silliness, he was kind and loving. I’m going to miss him. I hate that I had to find out about this like this, but there wasn’t a whole lot we could do.”

His mother said she’s upset with those who looked after her son in Chicago but failed to reach out for her side of the story.

“It’s just very unfortunate,” she said. “We, as adults, have responsibility to hear what that child was saying, but also to do due diligence to verify and make an effort to speak with the adult to get a better understanding, instead of saying nothing at all.”

She was speaking with her son over a messenger service after he left home, but he wouldn’t say where he was staying.

“He didn’t want me speaking to the person (he was staying with), didn’t want to share any of their information,” she said. “I said that’s not how it works. It’s out of order. As a mother, I can’t get my approval.”

She hopes other families can learn from the tragedy that hit theirs.

“Just take heed from our situation and do everything in your power so it doesn’t happen in your family,” she said. “People just need to communicate better. Lack of good communication is what’s caused a lot of ugliness in this world.”

Contributing: Emmanuel Camarillo, Sophie Sherry

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