ROGERS PARK — A 17-year-old who died after being shot in the face by a relative in his Rogers Park home was a senior at the Chicago Math and Science Academy who was in the process of applying for college, staff at the school said.
Terrance Johnson was described by his teachers as a "playful, very warm-hearted" kid. He died of his wounds Wednesday after being shot in the face on Saturday allegedly by Charles Johnson, 53, inside their home on the 1300 block of West Estes Avenue, according to police and the medical examiner's office.
There were conflicting reports about the relationship between the two, with police saying Charles Johnson was the teen's father, while school officials said he was the teen's uncle. His parents may have lived out of state, school officials said.
Jimmie Whitelow, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, said Friday that an investigation into allegations of neglect on the part of Charles Johnson began Monday. He said the investigation began after a call to the DCFS hotline after the shooting. Citing DCFS policy, Whitelow would not identify the hotline caller.
Irene Bermudez, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Math and Science Academy, said Terrance Johnson "was very well-liked and a very good student. All around a really good kid."
She said the school has offered counseling all week for students. Teachers have scripts they can use for classrooms, and the counselors are talking to many students, she said.
"The kids are devastated," Bermudez said. "We're going to be grieving for a little while."
Terrance Johnson allegedly found the gun and got into a fight when Charles Johnson tried to take it away from him, according to Chicago Police Department News Affairs Officer John Mirabelli. During the struggle, the gun discharged, and the teenager was shot in the right cheek, Mirabelli said.
Seat Vedziovski, Terrance Johnson's teacher and volleyball coach, said he had a long talk with Johnson days before the shooting.
He said Johnson told him he lived with his uncle, because his mother moved to California and his father lived in Michigan and had no relationship with him.
"Apparently he was not close with his father and did not want to know his father," Vedziovski said.
Johnson also had a half brother who lived a few blocks away, and a sister who lived in the same building that he did, he said.
Vedziovski said Johnson told him that he and his uncle would argue over little things, like chores. The teacher said he didn't get the impression that anything was seriously wrong with Johnson's home life. The teen always had new things and nice clothes, he said.
"He always had a very serious personality about him," Vedziovski said of Johnson. "But once you get to know him, he quickly changes his personality. He becomes very playful, very warm-hearted."
Ken Johnson, the academy's dean of students, said Johnson liked art and skateboarding, and hoped to attend the Art Institute.
It's the first time in the school's history that they have lost a student, according to the dean.
"It's hit us pretty hard over here," he said. "We're all figuring out how to grieve together."
Charles Johnson was arrested and hit with weapons charges, according to Mirabelli. He is being held on $50,000 bail.
It was not clear Thursday morning whether Charles Johnson will face homicide charges.
A spokesman for the Johnson family's church said a fund has been established to help pay for Terrance Johnson's funeral costs. Donations can be sent to the Rogers Park Presbyterian Church, c/o Suzette Johnson, 7059 N. Greenview Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60626. Or call 773-262-3667.