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'It Still Doesn't Seem Real': Teen Killed a Week After H.S. Graduation

 Tracy Gipson, 18, was shot in his head on June 26. He died early the next day.
Tracy Gipson
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SOUTH SHORE — Tracy Gipson graduated from high school on June 19 and had plans to join the Navy, said his mother, Evelyn Gipson.

The athletic 18-year-old was intrigued by the discipline and challenge of a naval career, plus, it would help him pay for college.

But on June 26, Tracy Gipson was fatally shot in his head a couple of blocks from his South Shore home.

Gipson had been riding in a car with friends in the 7500 block of South Merrill Avenue about 1:30 a.m., said Officer Daniel O’Brien, a Chicago Police Department spokesman. As the car passed a group of six to eight people on the sidewalk, someone in the group opened fire, striking Gipson.

“You know how you go past a group of guys, and you’re not paying attention — you’re just driving in a car?” said Evelyn Gipson, 49. “He drove past, and they started shooting. They shot my son in the head.”

The teen was rushed to Jackson Park Hospital and later transferred to Stroger Hospital, where he was pronounced dead the next morning.

No one is in custody for the shooting, O’Brien said, and police would not speculate on a motive.

Tracy Gipson was a star point guard who liked to make people laugh, his mother said. He was into fashion, didn’t have any enemies and wasn’t involved with a gang, she said.

“It’s not like [he and his friends] haven’t been asked,” Evelyn Gipson said. “But they’re not the gangbanger people. They didn’t hang out like that.”

Gipson said she’s seen more shootings in South Shore over the years. About nine months ago, as she walked out of a sewing class, Gipson watched several men in a car shoot bullets into the air.

“They just shoot,” she said. “People are crazy today. They are crazy.”

At a candlelight ceremony for Tracy Gipson, friends and family remembered the teen as “free-hearted” and “a jokester.” Several classmates called him their “best friend.”

"He would do anything to make you laugh," Evelyn Gipson said. "Whenever he and his brother [14-year-old Tyrese Gipson] would get into it, and he’d make his brother mad … Tracy would always say, ‘If I make you laugh, will you not be mad at me anymore?”

It always worked, said Tyrese Gipson, who graduated from middle school the day before his brother graduated from South Shore High School.

“I understand that my son is gone, but I haven’t wrapped my head around it yet,” Evelyn Gipson said Monday, as she pored over childhood photos. “It still doesn’t seem real. It doesn’t seem real.”

Tracy Gipson was an organ donor. In the weeks to come, his mother will receive notes detailing who received her son’s organs. She hopes that will help his spirit live on.

“I’m upset, of course. It’s tragedy what happened to my son. I’m going to miss my son tremendously,” Evelyn Gipson said. “But I thank him for his 18 years that he gave to us."