Bail was denied on Monday to the teen charged in the shooting death of a 15-year-old Chicago boy who was gunned down while protecting his twin brother during a mugging. As the community comes to grips with the tragedy, those who knew the slain boy are denouncing the system responsible for neighborhood safety.
On Saturday afternoon, identical twins Demario and Demacio Bailey were walking to a basketball game at their school in the neighborhood of Englewood when four teens approached the pair and demanded they give up their belongings. A struggle ensued. "Get off my brother," Demario yelled at the mugger accosting Demacio, according to a police report cited by the Chicago Sun-Times. "He doesn't have anything!"
One of the assailants then pulled a gun and fired. Demacio fled, but returned to find his brother had been shot in the chest, per the Chicago Tribune.
Killed just three days shy of his 16th birthday, Demario is remembered as an exemplary brother, student and community member.
“Demario was just a model student,” Demario’s advisor, Rachel Terry, told The Huffington Post. “He came to school for one purpose, which was learning. He and his brother were inseparable but competed with each other for good marks, GPA. ... They were the type of students that every teacher wants.”
Demario's worst demerit was chewing gum freshman year, according to Terry.
"In addition to mourning this loss, [Demacio] will also be forced to live with the horrible memory of watching his brother be murdered in front of him," Dr. Garland Thomas-McDavid, the principal at Johnson College Prep, the twins' school, said in a statement emailed to The Huffington Post.
Thomas-McDavid expressed frustration over the violence facing children in the community.
"The apologies are not enough, and after all the fanfare is over, someone still has to put their baby in the ground," she wrote in her statement.
"I believe 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," she added. "Demario did not deserve to die three days from his sixteenth birthday."
Later clarifying her position on martial law, the principal wrote:
"The existing structures who are responsible for overseeing the well-being of our children when they are traveling the streets are ineffective. Multiple children are being victimized daily, and I think we should use whatever means are necessary to stop this. ... Why is it that there are communities in the city where children are safe every day all day, but on the south and west sides, we are comfortable allowing children to be killed in droves? Our children are worth saving and protecting and if it's not a priority to the powers that be, then bring someone else in here who won't make excuses. A life is a life. A child is a child."
Johnson Assistant Principal Ebonie Durham told HuffPost that the mood at school Monday was somber. She said police are still too few and far between in the area, adding that she wants answers from lawmakers and community leaders: “What are you doing to stop this?”
Terry told HuffPost that Johnson, an open-enrollment charter high school, pays out it its own budget for increased security. She said calls for more law enforcement in the area have yielded nothing.
“I haven’t seen anything change,” Terry said.
Keontay Thompson, an older student and friend of the twins, said the area where Demario was killed is known to be dangerous and poorly monitored. “We always have to stick together,” he said of walking with the twins in that area, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Carlos Johnson, 17, appeared before a judge Monday and was charged as an adult with first-degree murder, robbery with a firearm and attempted robbery with a firearm, local outlet WGN reports. Two 17-year-olds and a 16-year-old were also charged with murder, reports the Sun-Times.
The school has organized a fundraiser to help the family with funeral costs.
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Johnson College Prep is a selective-enrollment charter school. It is an open-enrollment charter school.