PORTAGE PARK — Late Monday night, 19-year-old Alex Anderson walked into Tracie Papish's bedroom covered in blood.
"He told me he'd been shot, to call 911," Papish said.
The teen had been living with Papish's family in Portage Park since his grandmother died last summer. Anderson was best friends with one of Papish's six children and "like a son" to Papish and her husband.
About 10:30 p.m. Monday, the teen was shot while riding in a car in the 4300 block of North Milwaukee Avenue. The driver and another passenger shot Anderson in the left arm and abdomen before he was able to get out and walk to Papish's home in the 5000 block of West Collum Avenue.
"He made it into the house and into my bedroom and asked us for help," Papish said.
"It was really scary. My instinct was to jump up and help. ... Any of my kids are hurt, I try to take care of them," she said, choking back tears. "Unfortunately, this was something I couldn't heal."
Anderson was rushed to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 4:42 a.m. Tuesday.
Friends and neighbors on Wednesday said they didn't know who was in the car with Anderson, or what had happened. One friend said the driver was an acquaintance Anderson hadn't seen in a while, but no one knew for sure.
As of Thursday morning, no one was in custody.
“He was a good kid. He wasn’t a gang-banger or nothing," said David Papish, Tracie Papish's husband.
The Papish family had known Anderson for nearly a decade. The teen was part of a tight-knit crew of "inseparable" "soul brothers" that included the couple's son and his friends Carlos Olan and Raymond Casiano.
The boys would skateboard in Portage Park and were in classes together at Portage Park Elementary School, 5330 W. Berteau Ave.
Anderson was into motocross and dirt bikes, friends said. He was goofy and charming — someone who had natural charisma.
"He was always a cool kid, right off the bat," said Casiano, 20. "He was an open person. He wasn't judgmental. If you were to walk up to him and ask for a favor, he wasn't going to look at how you looked first before he'd help."
After Anderson's mother died, he lived with his grandmother, friends said. Though the teen had a father and sister in Wisconsin, he loved Chicago and was especially close to his grandmother.
"She took care of him, and he took care of her," Tracie Papish said. "For him, it was really heartbreaking [when she died]. That was his person."
Anderson turned to music, friends said. Casiano would make beats, and Anderson rapped.
"After his grandmother passed away, that was a good way for him to vent. That was the most perfect way ... to get that bad energy out," Casiano said. "He was progressing faster than anybody else [in terms of musical ability]. I honestly had faith in the kid, man. I knew he was going to be something great with the music."
Anderson worked at Hot Dog Express, 4300 N. Milwaukee Ave. He dreamed of pursuing music full time, friends said.
On Tuesday afternoon, as news of his death spread, more than 100 people flooded onto the sidewalk and street outside the Papish home for a memorial.
Neighbors said Anderson was polite and respectful to adults. Friends remembered him as a restless "go-getter" who liked to go for drives Downtown. David Papish laughed when he talked about Anderson's "penguin walk" — the little shimmy he'd do when Papish insisted the teen pull up his baggy jeans.
"He was a fun-loving kid," Tracie Papish said. "That's what he was. He was still a kid."