CHICAGO — Three teens have been charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of college freshman Dionte Maxwell, police said.
Maxwell, an 18-year-old who attended Rockford College on a football scholarship, was killed Friday night when several strangers entered his uncle's Avalon Park home and refused to leave, police said. Maxwell was shot twice in his chest during a struggle with the strangers, police said.
Charles Southern, 19, of the 11000 block of South Vernon Avenue; Ronald Hayes, 17, of the 1700 block of East 85th Street and Darrius White, 16, of the 8600 block of South Euclid Street, were all charged with first-degree murder, armed home invasion, attempted armed home invasion and mob action, authorities said.
All three are charged as adults. Police said Southern was the triggerman, and at least Hayes and White are documented members of a faction of the Black P-Stone street gang, according to court documents.
They are scheduled to appear in court Monday.
After the shooting, Maxwell's family was stunned.
“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.”
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 entered the party uninvited, said Officer John Mirabelli, a Chicago Police Department spokesman. When they were asked to leave, a verbal argument became physical, McMillon said, as Maxwell and his uncle struggled to get rid of the men.
As they were escorted outside, a 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.
“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 laid-back 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 day care 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 address the media 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 from high school. “Then this is what happens. I don’t understand.”