By DANIEL PONEMAN
Special to ZAGSBLOG
CHICAGO – Chicago State University is located in a notoriously crime-infested area of Chicago’s South Side, near the intersection of 95th street and Martin Luther King Drive.
But still Chicago Public School boys basketball games are held there regularly, usually incident-free. People’s worst fears were realized this Wednesday, as an exciting basketball match between South Side rivals Simeon and Morgan Park ended in tragedy.
A 17-year-old boy, Tyrone Lawson, was shot and killed in the Chicago State University parking lot, an innocent bystander waiting for his mother to come pick him up from the game.
Two suspects are in custody. University police pulled over their Jeep that night and found the handgun inside. The university released a statement Thursday morning saying it was “deeply saddened by the tragic shooting death.”
The game itself went down to the wire.
Simeon, led by the No. 1 high school player in the nation in Duke-bound Jabari Parker, won 53-51 thanks to a phantom time out call by Morgan Park head coach Nick Irvin with 12 seconds left to play and no timeouts to give.
The game was plenty exciting and the majority of the 5,000+ fans in attendance left the gym satisfied. But it only takes one fool to change everything.
Tempers flared after the game between Simeon and Morgan Park players. Pushing and shoving ensued but nothing of serious consequence.
The schools are located just 30 blocks apart on Vincennes Ave., and many of the opposing players compete on the AAU circuit together with the Mac Irvin Fire, so a little hot-headedness is almost expected after such a close game that had so much on the line for these young men.
When the fighting and shouting spilled into the stands the mood in Chicago State became significantly more tense though, at which point I and many of the other spectators quickly hustled to our cars before things escalated.
I was filling up my tank at a gas station one block away from the Chicago State athletic facilities when a young man ran inside of the BP store frantically reporting the news, “They shooting! They shooting!” as a string of a few dozen police cars whirred by.
Flocks of high school aged kids could be seen running in every direction — many of them with mischievous smiles on their faces indicating an unawareness of the severity of what had just happened.
With news of the shots fired outside the arena, players, coaches, fans and media were kept inside the gym for over an hour after the conclusion of the game.
Morgan Park star guard Billy Garrett Jr., a DePaul recruit, huddled his team together in the locker room to pray that no one had been hurt.
Unfortunately, their prayers went unanswered. Our city lost another son.