In between heaving sobs, Derrianna Ford said she and her boyfriend had been aching for the day they would turn 18 — “So that we could get away from everybody.”
Those words drew chuckles from some of the older people who stood outside Mather High School Tuesday, a reminder of Ford’s innocence and that of her boyfriend, Caleb Reed.
“I dated Caleb for three years, and I can’t believe I’ve got to bury my boyfriend,” Ford said. “He was too kind for this world. He cared about everybody.”
Reed, a junior at Mather, was found lying on a sidewalk July 31, in the 1900 block of West Granville Avenue, authorities said. He had been shot in the head and was taken to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, where he died two days later. Police had not made an arrest in the case as of Tuesday.
A crowd of about 50 people gathered outside Mather Tuesday to remember a young man who was an articulate, driven advocate for funneling more money to communities plagued with violence. He argued in favor of having police officers removed from schools and for police departments to be defunded, his friends said.
“I spent every moment with him. We planned our whole lives together. To be in this position, it hurts. It hurts so much,” Ford said.
Daniel Clucas, Reed’s counselor at Mather, recalled a lanky boy who always “wore his heart on his sleeve.”
“I”m not always thrilled when students are taller than me, but I could look down any hallway, and I could see Caleb standing above the crowd,” Clucas said.
Reed was “always looking to grow,” Clucas said.
“He looked inside himself and challenged himself to get better on a daily basis,” he said. “There are plenty of adults out there who don’t have the capabilities that this young man had when it came to ruthless self-examination.”
Reed’s mother, Sabrina Pleasant, told the gathering: “I’m feeing so much grief right now about my son, Caleb. He was such a good boy. He cared about people so much.”
A few minutes later, friends and family released balloons — in orange, Reed’s favorite color — into the sky.