SOUTH SHORE — Lelia Rodgers was with her son in his last moments on earth.
"I heard gunshots, looked out my window and saw my son laying on the ground," Rodgers said. "I ran out and held him."
"I kept asking him to talk, saying, 'I'm right here.' He took three breaths, and that was it."
Darrin Rodgers, 27, was shot in his chest at 12:10 a.m. Wednesday, just steps from his mother's apartment, police said.
He was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and pronounced dead at 12:53 a.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.
Rodgers is Chicago's first homicide victim of the month and was one of three people killed in overnight shootings citywide.
In the minutes leading up to the shooting, Lelia said her son was lying on her couch when his friend rang the doorbell.
He had gone down to answer the door when she heard the shots.
While police said the shooting is under investigation, Lelia Rodgers said she briefly talked with the friend in the hours after the shooting and doesn't believe he was involved.
Rodgers' mother and other family members said there was no reason for anybody to target the man they said lived for his three children and wasn't involved in criminal life.
"If you needed him to do anything for you, he was there for you," Lelia Rodgers said.
Darrin Rodgers attended South Shore High School, but never finished. His most recent job was at a Wendy's, where he worked hard to support his family.
"If he had big dreams, he didn't tell me," Lelia Rodgers said. "He just wanted the best for his family."
Darrin Rodgers was close to all three of his children: his daughters Ta'nyia and Kiara, ages 7 and 8, and his 1-year-old son, DeAndre, his mother said.
Faviola Sanchez, DeAndre's mother, said the father and son had a special bond. They last saw each other on Sunday during an outing to Taylor Park in the Grand Boulevard neighborhood.
When the day ended, "He saw us to the car and said, 'I love you, Fat Man,'" a nickname he had given his son.
Sanchez said Rodgers was excited about their their son's first birthday party in two weeks.
The parents had decided on a Mickey Mouse-themed celebration in May rather than February, DeAndre's birth month, because it was too cold outside in February.
"Any guy who has long hair and dreads, he always calls 'Dada,'" Sanchez said of her son. "It's hurtful, because my son won't get to see his Dada. He really loved his son."