SOUTH SHORE — Fearro Denard's father heard the gunshots that killed his son less than a half-block from their South Side home.
Zeebedee Denard, 82, wasn't able to make the walk downstairs to a nearby alley where his adopted son lay.
"I figured it wasn't him," he said.
But one of his son's friends later delivered the grim news. Family and friends gathered Saturday night near the spot where 18-year-old Fearro was fatally shot in the head after a car pulled up and seven or eight shots were fired.
Fearro was pronounced dead at 9:30 p.m. in the 7300 block of South Dorchester Avenue, said Officer John Mirabelli, a Chicago Police Department spokesman.
Zeebedee Denard adopted his son when he was 2 years old, because "That's what a good man does." He said his son had just left home to change out of his basketball clothes when he heard the shots.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel called Zeebedee Denard Tuesday morning to "ask me if I needed anything," he said. Five others had been killed and 13 wounded the same Memorial Day weekend.
Fearro loved to rap, play basketball and was a typical kid, said Jennifer Eason, a family friend.
The family strongly rejected any gang involvement as a motive for his death.
Family members and Eason recounted a trip in 2008 when Fearro was chosen among the top students in his class to meet former President George Bush in Washington, D.C.
Meeting the president had a profound effect on him, family said — It was a chance to "get out of the neighborhood and see something different."
"This neighborhood is at war," Eason said. "We're in a community that needs more voices."
Eason listed a number of recent shootings on the block, directly next to Fearro's former school, James Madison Elementary, including the slayings of Robert Gholson and Jonathan Williams. She knew Williams.
"It's just the neighborhood — it could have been anyone," she said. "Everything hits home."