Arshell Dennis III was due to fly back to New York on Sunday after a surprise visit home to Chicago for his sick mother's birthday, reports the Washington Post. Instead, the son of a Chicago police officer was shot dead. Police say Dennis, 19, was sitting on his family’s front porch, chatting with a friend after a block party, when an unknown assailant opened fire, reports WGN. Dennis—NAACP student chapter vice president at St. John's University, where he was studying journalism—was killed by a bullet to the chest, while his friend was taken to a hospital in serious condition with wounds to his arm and side. No arrests have been made but the shooting may have been a case of “mistaken identity” or part of a gang initiation, police tell the Chicago Sun-Times.
There is "absolutely no credibility" to the idea that Dennis' death was linked to his father's role as a DEA task force officer, says Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. "Any shooting victim that's in Chicago is unacceptable," he adds, "but this one hits close to home." Neither victim was involved in gangs or had a criminal history, says Johnson. Dennis—seen discussing police brutality in this YouTube video—"was a beautiful young man, full of laughs and always teasing us," his grandfather tells the Chicago Tribune. "It's a deep loss, and it hurts. I wish this senseless killing would stop." Nine people were killed over the weekend in Chicago, which had tallied 436 deaths from gun violence in 2016 as of Thursday. (In all, more than 2,000 people have been shot in the city this year.)