AUBURN GRESHAM — The family of Jamarius Askew remembers him for having big dreams and making a positive impact on everyone he met.
Askew was set to enter his junior year at Urban Prep Academies, Bronzeville Campus before he was gunned down July 19 on the steps from his home in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood, his family said.
Growing up, Askew loved to listen to music and looked up to his older cousin Demarius Johnson, who raps under the name “Spenzo.” Johnson helped Askew learn everything he could about the music business hoping to prepare him for his future.
“He wanted everybody to know his name,” said Demarius Johnson, Askew’s older cousin who served as a father figure.
But Askew was torn between a career in music and engineering, especially after participating in a summer program at Michigan Technological University after his freshman year of high school.
Askew did well in math and science, says his mother, Olivia Askew.
“He was a perfectionist,” Olivia Askew said. “Whatever he was going to decide to do, he was going to do to the best of his ability.”
The night Askew was shot he had been listening to music with two friends in the 7500 block of South Paulina Street, his mother said.
A gunman man reportedly came out of a nearby alley and started shooting. Askew stated running but he couldn’t get away, his mother said. One of the other men was also injured.
Askew was pronounced dead a few hours later, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office. He’d been shot in the back, according to the office.
Olivia Askew said her son, the only boy among five siblings, was a star both at school and in the community.
The younger Askew maintained at least a 3.0 grade point average at school, was the starting wide receiver and cornerback for his high school football team. He also helped build gardens in city parks, his mother said.
“I [can't] think or see anything that my child could have done to make someone come and do this to him,” Olivia Askew said. “You could interview every person he's ever met at school or on the next block and they will all say he was a respectable, lovable child.”
The day after Askew was killed, Johnson, his rapper cousin, expressed his anger on Twitter: “Name one Mother Who wants To Bury Her F***** Son at the age of 16! I mean For F***** Once! Can A Black Man Live Longer Than His mother? Huh!”
She said that while there were many witnesses to the shooting, police work would be tough in an area where violent criminals are protected by a “no snitching” culture. No one has been apprehended in the murder, according to Chicago police data.
“When the Chicago Police Department comes on a scene, they feel as though they need aggressive force to tame down a situation,” Olivia Askew said. “When it comes time to come into communities and do police work, do you think it's going to be easy? We’d like to help, but we need to feel like we can trust them and that they trust us.”