WEST PULLMAN — The sound of her son's voice woke up Frances Charleston as he came home on June 29. The shots that killed him followed the sound of his voice.
Shannon Ware, 28, had come home alone that morning, taking the gangway beside his home in the 100 block of West 116th Street in order to avoid waking his grandmother, when two men walked up and fired three times, his mother said.
In a slightly varying story, police said Ware was with a group of people when a gunmen fired into the crowd from across the street, striking him in his head and chest before fleeing in a light-colored sedan.
"I heard him say, 'I ain't on that, I ain't on that,'" Charleston said, pointing down her porch stairs at the spot where Ware died. "Next thing, I hear three shots ... We jumped up at the sound."
Charleston couldn't hear what the gunmen said to her son, but she said his response suggests he didn't know them. Ware, a Jane Addams Resource Center graduate, was planning to enroll at BIR Training Center to enhance his skills as a machine operator before he was killed.
According to his mother, he was known as "Granddaddy" among their Pullman neighbors — a nickname indicative of his lengthy speeches urging friends to attend college. And, generally, "because he was like an old man."
"Nobody can say his legacy was one of being a drug dealer or gangbanger or anything like that. He was on the straight and narrow," Charleston said as several neighbors stopped by her home to offer their condolences. "He was very loved."
The family had returned to Chicago about eight years ago from Atlanta, where Ware was involved in a variety of sports before he graduated from Lovejoy High School, she said.
Her son was as sociable and funny in Georgia as he was when they returned to Chicago, she added.
Charleston, whose mother first arrived in Pullman in the 1970s, became block club president of her Far South Side neighborhood a few years ago — the same position her father had held several decades prior.
The neighborhood has changed since then, she said, but she's still got love for the community.
The neighborhood "looks more impoverished than it is," she said. "A lot of people here go to work, with good jobs, they have children in universities. ... I see it differently now.
"The bad thing is that this is a high-crime area — but not everyone out here is a high-crime individual."
She said it's a community she wants to give back to — even after it took her son.
Along with the pictures of family and friends on her wall is a picture of herself and a local young man in a graduation cap, one of several whom Charleston has guided toward an education, she said.
She recently finished a bachelor's degree in psychology and is planning a master's degree next.
"I want to start an outreach counseling center in this area," she said.
No one has been arrested in Ware's death, according to police.