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College Student, 18, Shot Dead When Strangers Crash Family Birthday Party

By Erica Demarest | June 1, 2013 3:41pm | Updated on June 2, 2013 8:29am
 Dionte Maxwell, 18, was killed Friday night when several strangers refused to leave a family birthday party.
Dionte Maxwell
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AUBURN GRESHAM — An 18-year-old college student was fatally shot late Friday when a group of men crashed his family’s birthday party and refused to leave.

“We don’t understand,” the teen’s grandmother, Brenda McMillon, said, “how strangers could just come into a party, not be welcome, be told to leave, and then not want to leave.”

Dionte Maxwell, 18, had just finished his first year at Rockford College, McMillon said. He was home for the summer and spent Friday night at his uncle’s Avalon Park house celebrating a relative’s birthday.

Shortly before 11 p.m., a group of men entered the party uninvited, said Officer John Mirabelli, a police spokesman. When they were asked to leave, a verbal argument ensued.

Matters soon became physical, McMillon said, as Maxwell and his uncle struggled to get rid of the men.

As the group was being escorted outside, one man pulled a gun from his waistband and shot Maxwell twice in the chest before fleeing on foot, Mirabelli said.

Maxwell was rushed to Jackson Park Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 11:53 p.m.

Two 16-year-old boys and a 19-year-old man were charged with first-degree murder Sunday. The teens will be tried as adults, police said.

“No one could understand what the problem was,” McMillon said from her Auburn Gresham home Saturday. “My son and grandson weren’t in gangs. It wasn’t gang-related… Maybe they wanted to rob my son? I don’t know.”

Maxwell’s uncle (McMillon’s son) bought the house in the 8400 block of South Constance Avenue last August, McMillon said. He and his girlfriend have been steadily “fixing it up, little by little.”

Family members recognized the party crashers as “guys they’ve seen walking around the neighborhood,” but there had never been any problems.

Neighbors near Maxwell’s childhood home in the 8400 block of South Marshfield Avenue expressed shock Saturday.

“He was doing what he was supposed to do in life,” said Omarr Sykes, a 33-year-old who’s known Maxwell since “before he was born.”

Maxwell was laidback and a bit of a homebody, family and friends said. He graduated from the Chicago Vocational Career Academy in 2012, “loved numbers” and planned to major in either engineering or architecture.

The teen liked sports — especially basketball and football — and attended Rockford on a football scholarship, his grandmother said. Maxwell played defensive back for the Regents, wearing number 18.

"He's a great kid. He was very polite. He always said 'yes, sir,' 'no, sir,'" said Jay Emmons, assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for the Rockford football team. "He would do anything for the team."

Maxwell saw action in five games last season, making two tackles. Emmons said Maxwell continued to improve as a player.

"If he was with us this year, he may have started," Emmons said.

When Maxwell was home, he often helped out at the daycare his grandmother ran.

“We shouldn’t be out here talking to you about him,” family friend Douglas Bryant, 34, said. “He should be talking to you about one of us.”

Maxwell’s mother, Ceylon Maxwell, 35, was too distraught to speak with press Saturday. Dionte Maxwell was her only child.

“You try to do the best you can do, teach them the right thing, teach them the right way,” McMillon said, noting that she was proud Maxwell graduated high school. “Then this is what happens. I don’t understand.”