SOUTH CHICAGO — The signs of a struggle were clear and untouched more than a day later: two distinct marks where two teens, best friends, were shot to death in a South Side basement.
Pieces of the walls were torn down where the blood of Jordan Means, 16, and Anthony Bankhead, 18, mixed with a heap of trash and insulation material inside the corner building Sunday afternoon.
Lit candles were placed along the floor and windowsill of the unfurnished basement in the two-story home. The adjacent rooms were empty aside from a sleeping bag and some clothes; a bed sheet appeared hastily thrown over the window as a curtain.
The two teens were found dead there, in the 8200 block of South Houston Avenue, at about 10:30 a.m. Saturday, according to police. Bankhead lived in the home, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office. Means lived a few blocks away in the 8100 block of South Coles Avenue.
Means’ mother, Camille Cochran, sat in her living room Sunday, pointing at the home where her son was killed, less than a block away. She had seen Means less than an hour before word spread that he and Bankhead had been shot.
She ran to the home, she said, but turned away as authorities lifted Means' body down the stairs.
“I couldn’t look at them bring my son out,” she said. “Who wants to see their son with a hole in their head … every time I close my eyes, all I see is my son.”
While some questions about the shooting may never be answered, Cochran said she’s confident about several points leading up to the moment of gunfire. Means, Bankhead and three older men had gotten into an argument over “something petty” — a stolen power cord — the night before when one of the men pulled a gun, she said. Cochran believes that argument turned in to a Facebook fight that had evolved into the double murder the following day.
Means was young but often ran with an older crowd, Cochran said. The Bowen High School student was quiet by nature, and thin, about 105 pounds.
"You could’ve blew on Jordan and he would fall over, he was so skinny,” she added, with a smile.
Bankhead and Means were best friends, Cochran said — she would often see Bankhead, who she believed to be homeless, in clothes she had bought for her son — "every time Jordan had something he gave it to Anthony," she said.
Bankhead’s family could not be contacted Sunday but the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office listed his address as the location where he and Means were found dead.
“I normally wouldn’t let you in, but go ahead — we’re still in shock,” said a man sitting on stairs above the basement apartment who identified himself as a resident of the home Sunday.
It was ultimately a spat between Bankhead and a 35-year-old man that led to the teens’ deaths in the basement, Cochran said. She knows the shooter personally, she added — she has his phone number in her cell phone — and said he was close with her son.
Though not confirmed by police, Cochran said the alleged attacker was identified by one of two girls present in the basement when he walked in and shot Means in the head before taking aim at Bankhead.
“It hurts even more that it’s someone we know,” Cochran said. “These are people I’ve trusted … [Jordan] put them on a pedestal … and they haven’t called me, they haven’t knocked on my door to tell me why.”
"Why did you kill my baby?" she asked.
No one was in custody as of Sunday afternoon, according to police.