MORGAN PARK — As the sun set in Morgan Park Tuesday night, dozens of mourners waved roses and lit candles to honor Stephon Wright, an 18-year-old who had been gunned down less than 24 hours prior.
Wright’s mother, Angela Ranson, who was physically weak following several bouts of chemotherapy, sat in a plastic chair and urged forgiveness.
“I want no one to ever have to sit in this seat like I am,” Ranson, 47, said. “I want no one out here to take retaliation for my son. We have to stop the violence.”
Wright was fatally shot about 8 p.m. Monday, police said. The teen — who was on track to graduate from an alternative program at Julian High School — had been sitting in a car with his girlfriend and another friend in the 10400 block of South Green Street when he noticed a gunman approaching.
“He told everybody to get out the car and run,” Ranson said. “Unfortunately, he got hit.”
Wright was struck in his leg, cheek and neck, his family said. The teen was pronounced dead at Roseland Community Hospital at 8:30 p.m. Monday.
According to family and friends, Wright was shot over an altercation involving his girlfriend’s family. One of her relatives had angered the shooter, who was seeking retaliation, they said.
“If they can’t get who they want to get, they’ll take who they can,” said one of Wright’s relatives, who believes the teen was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
No charges have been filed in the case.
“I would’ve never thought I’d be getting a call” about Wright, said Vernell Pondexter, 42, a dean of students at Julian High School. “That’s like my own kid.”
Pondexter, who coached Wright in football, said the kicker was a “cool, mellow, relaxed guy" who liked to goof off and make people laugh. Pondexter hoped Wright would pursue a college football scholarship.
“I deal with these kids nine hours a day,” he said. “I know every single gang at the school. I’ve never seen him [Wright] do a gang handshake. I’ve never seen him run with a gang.”
Wright was close to his family, Ranson said, and he dubbed several of his friends and football buddies his “brothers.”
At Tuesday’s vigil, Wright’s teammates donned red T-shirts (red was Wright's favorite color) plastered with Wright’s photograph, nicknames and inside jokes. A bevy of balloons was released into the sky as Ranson addressed the crowd.
“I want you to seize every moment,” she told the young people who had gathered at her home in the 10800 block of South Racine Avenue. “Stephon did not make it to seize the moment.”
Ranson — who is also mom to Robert Jr., 27, and Chyna, 8 — was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2010. Relatives said they were worried that Wright’s death might negatively affect her health.
“I have to stay a trouper,” Ranson said. “I want to be here for my kids, and I want them to value having me here as long as they can. I lost [Stephon], but I’m still going to be a fighter. I’m never going to give up.”