ENGLEWOOD — Dozens of Michael Westley’s friends and relatives expressed shock and surprise over the teen's shooting by police as they crowded near a makeshift memorial for him Monday afternoon.
Michael, a 15-year-old freshman at Englewood High School, was killed Sunday night after he allegedly pointed a gun toward officers.
“I know these young boys in the neighborhood have a lot of guns,” said Christine Roundtree, a 23-year-old neighbor who has known Michael for years. “They like to shoot each other. But he wasn’t one of them.”
According to a police statement, officers in Englewood were responding to a call about shots fired when they spotted Michael running down the street about 10:50 p.m. They chased the teen through an alley and into the 6600 block of South Sangamon Street.
It was there, police said, that Michael pointed a handgun toward them, and they opened fire, killing him. Police later said they recovered two weapons at the scene.
“I’ve never known him to have a gun or be associated" with gangs, said Michael's stepgrandmother, Eastly Lewis, 56. “He’s never been arrested or any of that. It’s crazy. This is a big shock.”
On Monday afternoon, relatives made posters and reminisced as they planned a vigil for Michael near his family’s home in the 6700 block of South Sangamon Street.
The teen was described as easygoing, friendly and quiet. He loved basketball and often played pickup games with neighborhood kids. Michael was an average student, his stepgrandmother said, but he always attended school.
“I always fussed at him because I try to make them [my grandkids] do better than what they’re doing,” Lewis said.
Michael was the second person killed by police Sunday. Antwoyn Johnson, a 24-year-old who lived a couple houses down from where Michael was shot, was killed in South Lawndale earlier that day.
Neighbors in the two-block stretch of South Sangamon Street buzzed about the shootings Monday morning.
“He ain’t nothing but a baby,” one man said about Michael.
“He’s a baby with a pistol,” another countered.
Family friend Latasha Holmes said her 6-year-old son Jamari was having a tough time grasping why “cousin Mikey” wasn’t coming back. The child asked whether police should’ve shot Michael or arrested him.
“I said, ‘Well, what do you think?’” Holmes said. “He said, ‘They should’ve arrested him because then he’d still be alive.’”
“He was my best cousin,” Jamari Holmes said. “I’m feeling sad.”
Later Monday night, nearly 100 mourners gathered at the tree where Michael's memorial had become a vigil.
"Unity is what we have going on right now," Lewis said to the crowd.
"But it shouldn't take something like this," a neighbor responded.