HUMBOLDT PARK — Tevin Kirkman was looking forward to his cousin’s high school graduation.
On Friday afternoon, the 22-year-old mechanic swung by his family’s Humboldt Park home — a multi-apartment building that’s housed Kirkmans since 1980 — and asked his grandmother if he could borrow $20.
“He said, ‘Grandmamma, I’m going to [cousin] Cyera’s graduation party tomorrow. Could you cover my haircut because I haven’t gotten paid yet?’” grandmother Mary Kirkman recalled.
After a quick trip to the barber, Tevin Kirkman spent the rest of the night with his family before leaving their house in the 1100 block of North Lawndale Avenue sometime after 10 p.m., relatives said.
By midnight, police flooded the street. Kirkman had been shot in the back of the head on the sidewalk in front of the house. He was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 12:20 a.m. Saturday.
“His cousin is graduating today,” Mary Kirkman said Saturday, noting that plans for a large family party have been put on hold. “It’s messing the whole day up because [his cousin who is graduating] didn’t sleep none last night. Her eyes are all swollen.”
Sitting in Mary Kirkman’s living room Saturday morning, family members said they didn’t know why anyone would target their relative. Police said no one was in custody, and that Tevin Kirkman had documented gang ties, a claim family members dispute.
“My brother was too smart for that,” sister Tamera Kirkman, 25, said.
Relatives denied any gang involvement, calling Kirkman “funny,” “very smart” and “full of energy.” He liked to dance and could bake a mean cheesecake — but more than anything — Kirkman loved being a dad to sons Tevin Jr., 6, Jeremiah, 4, and Jayden, 3.
“He like showing them manly things around the house — like how to rake the yard and fix cars,” Tamera Kirkman said. Her brother often took his kids to Chuck E. Cheese and liked slipping coins to his nieces and nephews so they could buy candy.
Tamera Kirkman laughed as she recalled a family dinner. During a birthday celebration at the Old Country Buffet, Tevin Kirkman started an impromptu food fight at the table. He loved cracking jokes, his sister said.
“His boys are taking it hard,” Mary Kirkman said. “They were crazy about him. They loved hanging out with their dad like they were little grown men.”
The 60-year-old grandmother said a rougher element has been steadily moving into her once-quiet neighborhood. Several relatives said they’ve witnessed drug deals on the sidewalk, and car windows have been smashed.
Mary Kirkman leaned out her window as a neighbor scrubbed blood off the sidewalk.
“I’m fitting to move," she said. "It’s too dangerous.”